By Lekan Oguntoyinbo|Mar 29, 2013|Posted In Health Callings
This is a great time to work in healthcare information technology (IT). The Bureau of Labor Statistics says jobs in healthcare IT have grown steadily in the last two years and projects more growth in the coming years.
There are a couple of factors driving this growth. One is the burgeoning healthcare field, which is driven by changing demographics. Another is the Affordable Care Act, which is forcing many healthcare facilities to change the way they do business.
Included in the healthcare bill are electronic medical records that offer incentives to hospitals and physicians to meet certain IT requirements in the coming years, explains Larry Strayhorn, managing partner in charge of the technology practice at Kaye/Bassman International Corp., a recruiting firm in Dallas. On the flipside, there are stiff penalties if these targets are not met, says Strayhorn.
The rush to meet these deadlines has forced many IT consulting companies and healthcare facilities to hire more healthcare IT workers who can program, write code and develop, says Strayhorn.
Demand for qualified healthcare IT workers is so high, he says, he’s seen wages jump in the last year.
Just a year ago hourly wages for healthcare IT workers ranged from $50 to $70 an hour, Strayhorn says. Now, he says, “We’re seeing wages of $90 to $100 per hour.”
Strayhorn says having a degree in health informatics and certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP) is a good way to break into healthcare IT, but not the only path.
How to enter the field
- Combine your IT background with knowledge of the healthcare business: “The key is understanding the unique challenges that healthcare organizations face,” says Myron Weber, president of Northwood Advisors, an Irvine, Calif.-based business intelligence firm that gets the bulk of its business from healthcare companies. “Every company regardless of industry faces challenges with managing large volumes of data. With healthcare, it’s a larger-than-average challenge. If a candidate can demonstrate how they have dealt with these challenges outside, they can put themselves in a strong position.”
- Leverage your healthcare experience: Many hospitals and healthcare facilities have put together teams of healthcare and IT professionals to help upgrade their computer systems. The experience gained from being on one of these teams significantly enhances the marketability of healthcare workers, says Strayhorn. This is particularly true for registered nurses, medical technologists, pharmacists, radiology technologists and respiratory therapists, he says. “We are seeing RNs that made $75,000 now making $100,000 and some are going from making $70,000 to $200,000,” he says. If you work at a healthcare facility, he suggests volunteering for one of these teams. But there’s one catch: You have to have the aptitude.
- Try temporary assigments. These are short-term opportunities to help with the launching and upgrades of new computer systems in healthcare (called “Go Live” projects). Vendors hire large numbers of people from various backgrounds to assist with this effort. They often work side-by-side with nurses, physicians and other health professionals. Pay averages $40 to $60 an hour, says Strayhorn. If you excel, you stand a good chance of getting picked up for other opportunities, which could ultimately help you get the attention of hospitals and consulting companies.