HIT Hiring Hits Barrier

There is a high demand for HIT staff, but organizations are facing the barrier of a lack of qualified talent pool, which has caused staff shortages and created risks to patient care and revenue generation.

Hiring of health information technology employees might slow slightly this year compared to last, but it’s still going strong, according to a survey of hospital executives.

This was the first annual HIMSS Workforce Survey and it found that 75% of all respondents expect to hire additional IT staff this year. Last year, 80% of provider respondents said they hired at least one IT employee, and more than half said they hired up to five. The majority (59%) of health care provider organizations planning to IT staff in the next year plan on one to five new hires.

The two areas mostly likely for IT full-time employees to be hired to were clinical application support and help desk. These will be the two areas organizations plan to hire IT staff in the next year. According to the results, the regulatory, reimbursement and accreditation issues area was least likely to see additional IT hires.

Right now three-quarters of health care provider organizations said they currently outsource a service rather than hire directly and 93% plan to outsource an area in the next year. The top areas for outsourcing are: project management; clinical application support; system design/implementation; and IT security.

However, as there is high demand for IT staff and health care provider organizations indicated they are looking to hire experienced workers, the most common barrier for organizations looking to staff this department is the lack of qualified talent pool.

Nearly 30% of health care provider organizations said that they had to place an IT initiative on hold because of staff shortages. Regulatory requirements, such as meaningful use and ICD-10 conversion, had to take precedence over less critical projects.

According to responses to the HIMSS survey, these issues created risks to patient care and revenue generation because delays allowed inefficiencies to continue, staff got burned out and equipment broke.

“Projects likely to be put on hold included new system installations, EMR integrations, and system/hardware upgrades and enhancements,” according to the HIMSS report. “The lower priority projects were delayed, some up to three months, or in the long run end up taking more time because of the limited staff.”