The HIMSS11 Conference in Orlando was a flurry of activity and one of the best I have ever attended. Health IT worker demand was a key topic. Competition remains fierce among providers, vendors and consultants for the same pool of talent. No need to hide the fact that healthcare CIOs want to hire qualified IT talent, and the sooner the better. Along with hiring, CIOs are changing and rearranging IT departments with re-organization, and adding new roles to meet the demands of EMR adoption. Clinical IT/Informaticists and implementation experts remain at the top of the most wanted list, but new IT leadership roles are being created for Meaningful Use, corporate business partnership, sales and marketing of EMR services, and expert service delivery.
Changes in the IT Department
Why keep the IT department structure the same every year? New demands and new roles have made CIOs masters of reorganization. Here are some examples from CIOs who are in the midst of changing their departments:
- A CIO at an 11 hospital system, which had a centralized IT model, is in the process of moving to a more decentralized model adding Regional IT Directors and some IT staff at each hospital.
- A CIO at an eight hospital system, which has had IT Site Directors and IT staff at each hospital, will eliminate those positions to bring all IT staff into a centralized location.
- A CIO at an academic medical center has asked the entire Office of the CIO of 40 staff to reapply for their roles. The CIO is adding strategic new roles such as one for sales and marketing of EMR services to outside physicians, and another to handle corporate business partners to help support IT goals.
- A CIO at a large physician organization has created a new service delivery leadership role that will provide upgraded help desk capabilities and superior service to their IT customers.
Hiring HIT Workers 2011
Here are some data highlights regarding HIT staffing as presented in Orlando and from recent HIMSS surveys.
From the February 2011 HIMSS Vantage Point Survey on IT Staffing
- Nearly 3/4ths of HIMSS Vantage Point Survey respondents said they hired IT FTEs in 2010
- 2/3rds have the budget to hire additional FTEs in 2011
- Clinical informatics professionals and implementation experts are in high demand as the industry transitions from paper to EHRs
- Areas for anticipated hiring in 2011
- Clinical Informatics positions 56%
- Implementation experts 51%
- Consultants 35%
- System security 31%
- Software maintenance expert 29%
- Executive level positions 18%
- Medical Records professionals 16%
Salaries for key IT positions
What I see happening with salaries is that the location and complexity of the health system will dictate a range. But hiring managers and HR staff at health systems will need to be flexible if they want to attract the small elite pool of highly qualified IT leadership talent in the clinical IT and informaticists area. The salaries listed below are averages from the survey, but I have found that highly qualified IT talent in a competitive clinical area will demand much more.
From the 2010 HIMSS Compensation Survey Results, average salaries for key positions:
- Application Systems Analyst – $72,544 average
- Clinical/Nurse Informatics Director – $103,504 average
- Clinical/Medical Informatics Director – $176,588 average
- IS/IT Manager – $96,909 average
- Clinical Systems Analyst –Nurse – $84,007 average
- Project Manager – $93,877 average
- Director of Information Systems – $116,569 average
- Chief Security Officer – $122,975 average
- Chief Technology Officer – $142,311 average
- Implementation Manager – $94,157 average
A wave (or let’s just call it a tsunami) of new health IT workers is needed to help CIOs meet the increased demands of EMR adoption and movement to continuum of care in the ambulatory and outpatient areas. The mad dash is on!