HIMSS: Health IT hiring remains 'consistent'

Clinical application support continues to be a major hiring need for healthcare organizations, according to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's second annual workforce survey.

Sixty-four percent of provider respondents (106 individuals) identified clinical application support as their top area of IT need for 2014, up from 51 percent the previous year. What's more, 58 percent of respondents said they would be most likely to hire clinical applications support staff in the future. Comparatively, 35 percent of respondents said they would most likely hire IT security staff in the future.

The results of the survey, set to publish in August, were revealed on a webinar conducted this week.  

Overall, 84 percent of respondents reported that their organization hired at least one full-time employee (FTE) in the past year; 82 percent said their organization plans to hire at least one FTE in the coming year. In 2013, 79 percent of respondents said they had hired at least one FTE.

"From one year to the next, healthcare hiring has been fairly consistent," said Jennifer Horowitz, senior director of research for HIMSS Analytics.

Roughly half of respondents said they had hired between one and 10 FTEs in the past year, while 20 percent indicated they had hired 20 or more FTEs. While HIMSS found that a similar pattern emerged in last year's survey, Horowitz said the findings suggest a shift toward an increase in the latter practice.

"What that suggests to us is that even though the same number of organizations anticipate hiring, there may be a slightly increased demand to what people hired in the past year," she said.

Despite such consistency, close to 70 percent of respondents identified lack of qualified staff as their biggest hurdle to meeting staffing needs. That, in turn, led to 35 percent of 130 provider respondents putting IT initiatives on hold. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said staffing challenges did not force them to put their IT efforts on hold, although 38 percent said they did scale back projects in such instances.

"Clearly while there are great projections for staffing in healthcare organizations, [they] still aren't able necessarily to get all the staff they need," Horowitz said.

A recent survey from consulting and staffing firm Healthcare IT Leaders found that while healthcare IT workers tend to be fairly happy with their jobs, they're not as happy with their salaries. And though demand continues to push health IT salaries up, they tend to trail those in the IT industry overall. CIOs reported their workloads growing far faster than their paychecks in a survey published by St. Petersburg, Florida-based healthcare recruiting firm SSi-Search.

CIOs at the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives' CIO Forum in Orlando, Florida, earlier this year reported that the hires they're most likely to make this year include data scientists, analytics experts, chief information security officers, chief applications officers, and heads of digital technology and social media.

To learn more:
- listen and watch the on-demand webinar (registration required)