Health IT hiring remains a challenge

Healthcare IT remains a hot job market, according to a recently released survey by HIMSS Analytics.

Of 224 healthcare executives polled, more than 85 percent reported hiring at least one IT employee in 2012; none reported layoffs.

The survey found, however, that hiring differed between hiring among hospital/healthcare systems or vendors. Hospitals were more likely to hire for clinical application support positions and help desk IT staff, while vendors targeted sales and marketing additions, according to an announcement.

Thirty-one percent of respondents said they had put an IT project on hold because of staff shortages, while many said lower-priority projects created risks to patient care and revenue generation. Both groups cited a shallow local talent pool as the biggest barrier to fully staffing their IT departments.

Among hospital respondents, 76 percent said they outsourced at least one IT function rather than hiring in-house. Ninety-three percent said they plan to outsource a function within the next year. The areas most likely to be outsourced, according to an accompanying infographic, were project management, a clinical application, and system design and implementation.

Among certifications, both hospitals and vendors put the most importance on certification for network/architecture support pros and security personnel.

A report last month from the Metro Atlanta Chamber found that health IT was one of the largest areas of job growth in that locale; between 2010 to 2012, the number of advertised health IT positions soared by 167 percent.

InformationWeek's 2013 U.S. IT Salary Survey, however, found salaries flat in healthcare, which could help explain part of the difficulty in hiring. The median annual base pay for healthcare IT pros was $83,000, compared with $87,000 for IT pros across all industries.

Hospital CIOs averaged $208,000 annually in 2012, according to a survey by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives that determined hospital size to be a big factor. Those IT executives at facilities with fewer than 25 beds earned as little as $80,000.

Meanwhile, hiring in the healthcare industry overall is helping to fuel the nation's economic recovery, a new report from the Brookings Institution says.

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- check out the infographic (.pdf)
- read the Metro Atlanta Chamber report (.pdf)