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Factors Affecting IT Talent Shortage in the Global Healthcare Industry

by: Sarah Joson

Monday, July 6, 2015 |

The shortage for qualified IT talent continues to plague the healthcare industry, and in some cases, the situation is getting worse. Some healthcare firms believe that the only way to get IT professionals is to snatch them from other industries, while others feel that they would need an IT expert who has a proven track record in the medical/clinical field.

A post at CIO.com explains the opinions of several healthcare industry leaders:

Frank Myeroff, President of Direct Consulting Associates, a health IT staffing firm in Solon, Ohio, and  Ernie Hood, Senior Research Director for the Advisory Board Co., a large healthcare consulting firm based in Washington, D.C., both believe that healthcare organizations prefer healthcare-experienced people. They noted that even if the candidate is a graduate of a health IT training program, and even if he/she had worked in another industry, it doesn’t compare to the experience and knowledge that they would acquire in the actual field of healthcare.

In addition to that, the angle of salaries of health IT professionals was discussed. In a survey conducted by Computerworld/IDG Enterprises, a CIO in health/medical services earns an average of $173,941 annually. CIOs in computer-related services/consulting earn $146,111 a year, $151,889 in education, $133,972 in government, $191,762 in legal/insurance/real estate, and $192,885 in manufacturing. As for lower-level health IT staff, they are said to be compensated fairly as well.

However, several factors are still considered and are believed to affect the rates. For instance, an expert said it depends on the organization’s knowledge about the current IT environment. Another is the wage inconsistencies in healthcare facilities located in rural areas and cities.

In a survey done by Health Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS) last year, a third of the healthcare managers said they had to postpone an IT-related project because they don’t have the required internal staff. But this does not indicate that healthcare organizations are having a hard time finding the right people, it could be more of a budget issue.

There are two pertinent challenges in this situation. On one hand, a healthcare organization may have a hard time finding the right people with the right skills, and on the other, they don’t have the resources to carry out the project.

Outsourcing is another factor that needs to be looked into. In another survey conducted by Advisory Board Co. 75 percent of CIOs revealed that they have outsourced IT functions - some of which were clinical application support, system design and implementation, and project management.

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