Health IT workforce trends: Employers value data analytics, security credentials

Filling out job application
Analytics and cybersecurity are two emerging skill sets in an increasingly specialized health IT job market.

The rapid evolution of health technology is reshaping the health IT workforce as employers place more emphasis on specialized skill sets while seeking job applicants with advanced degrees.

That’s not to say there isn’t still a market for midlevel positions. Employers are still overwhelmingly seeking candidates to fill in operations and medical record administration, according to a review of more than 450 active job postings on Indeed.com published in the Journal of AHIMA. More than 75% of the job postings reviewed in February into this category and most were for midlevel positions.

But the workforce is also facing mounting pressure to specialize in certain skill sets—an issue that many in the industry anticipated. Curriculum enhancements developed by AHIMA’s Council for Excellence in Education which are scheduled to take effect this fall focus on information governance, informatics and data analytics.

“Change is constant and unless our competencies are keeping pace with industry changes we are not doing what is needed to advance the HIM profession,” Dilhari DeAlmeida, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh, told the Journal of AHIMA.

An HIMSS survey released earlier this year indicated hospitals are seeing significant workforce gaps with nearly a one-third of respondents indicating they were forced to scale back or and IT project because of workforce issues.

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Two specific skill sets appear to be gaining momentum in 2017. Although positions for informatics and data analytics made up just 6% of job postings, the majority of those required an advanced degree, according to the AHIMA study. Throughout all job postings, a bachelor’s degree was the most common requirement.

Researchers also noted a significant increase in job postings seeking applicants with a CHPS or HCISPP credentials, two of AHIMA’s privacy and security certifications. Job postings containing each credential grew nearly tenfold in 2016—a year in which the healthcare industry saw a huge spike in data breaches.

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Health IT jobs aren't expected to see a downward trend anytime soon as hospitals and digital health companies search for talent in a rapidly growing industry. A recent survey by the venture capital firm Venrock indicated that the health IT community feels largely insulated from regulatory or economic changes that are expected under the new administration, and digital health investment statistics in the first quarter of 2017 have supported that assertion.

However, some industry analysts have expressed concern about President Donald Trump’s stance on immigration and his push to reform the H-1B visa program, which provides significant workforce support for the health IT industry.