Health IT salaries lag behind overall IT industry

While demand for IT talent in healthcare remains high, salaries appear flat according to InformationWeek's 2013 U.S. IT Salary Survey.

The demand, however, indicates continuing upward pressure on salaries, the report says.

It finds no rise from a year ago in median annual base pay at $83,000, compared with $87,000 for IT pros across all industries. Healthcare IT managers received a slight boost in average base pay to $112,000, up from $109,000 in 2012, more than the industry average of $110,000.

However, there tend to be fewer bonuses in healthcare, the report says, and they're smaller for healthcare IT managers. Just 4 percent of healthcare IT manager compensation is beyond base pay, compared with 8 percent in the industry overall.

Fifty-three percent of healthcare IT staff  say they will receive bonuses in 2013 and 67 percent of managers.

Total compensation for staffers inched up 1.2 percent for staffers to a median of $85,000 and 1.9 percent for managers to $117,000, a slower growth rate that the survey found in the previous two years. Just 18 percent of mangers say they are satisfied with their overall compensation package.

The survey polled 711 IT staff and 586 IT managers. The lagging pay can be explained, to some extent, by the number of nonprofit and government organizations included in the sector where salaries are lower, the report says. The median base salary for IT staff in the nonprofit sector is $65,000 and at $70,000 with state and local governments.

However, women IT pros in the healthcare are closer to achieving parity with men than in the industry overall. Female IT staffers earn $84,000 in median total compensation, compared with $85,000 for men; for managers, men earn $118,000 and women $117,000. That 1 percent wage gap compares with a 13 percent difference in the industry at large.

The sector differs from the wider industry, though, by attracting more physicians into CIO, CMIO and research IT positions, which can boost salaries. High demand continues for talent in data management, business intelligence and as chief technology officers.

A recent report from Towers Watson reiterated the difficulty organizations have in IT staffing, recommending the best retention tools are increases in base pay, retention bonuses and additional education.

Hospital size makes a big difference in CIO pay, according to the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives. Hospital CIOs averaged $208,000 annually in 2012, while those at facilities with fewer than 25 beds earned as little as $80,000.

Meanwhile, the top 10 executives at Carolinas HealthCare System each received more than $1 million in 2012.

To learn more:
- here's the survey

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