IT staffing woes call for new recruiting, retention strategies

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Healthcare leaders are revisiting their IT staffing strategies in the face of ongoing difficulty in attracting the talent they need, according to a new survey from Pricewaterhouse Coopers Health Research Institute.  

The healthcare CEOs polled said they worry that IT staffing shortages could impede their ability to meet government mandates, consumer expectations and new growth opportunities.

Among the survey findings:

  • Nearly 80 percent plan to increase technology investments in 2013.
  • 77 percent of providers are hiring new IT staff. They said clinical informatics will be the most important skill for achieving their IT priorities, followed by systems and data integration.
  • Healthcare companies increasingly are borrowing technology specialists from other industries.
  • 51 percent fear their staff cannot keep up with the pace of technological change.
  • 77 percent say they are revisiting their hiring and promotion strategies to address gaping holes in health IT.
  • Providers, insurers and the pharmaceutical industry recruit from the same talent pool on certain skills, increasing demand. Those skills include Big Data/data integration analysts, privacy and security specialists, project/program mangers, developers/software engineers and others.
  • Drug and device companies believe new skills are needed, including economic outcomes research and bioinformatics.

Staffing topped the list as the most significant barrier to IT implementation by health IT professionals responding to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's (HIMSS) annual leadership survey. Respondents said their top staffing concerns included support for clinical applications (34 percent); network and architecture (21 percent); clinical informatics (18 percent); and IT security (14 percent).

A report last fall by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) found the shortages of IT staff greater than two years prior.

At the recent HIMSS meeting, Russell Branzell, the CEO of Fort Collins, Colo.-based Colorado Health Medical Group and the CEO of CHIME, told FierceHealthIT's Gienna Shaw that more than in other industries, the healthcare CIO has to be focused on process improvements rather than just the technological backbone of the business.

"Core competencies have changed--so little of it is technology orientation. It really is about providing a vision and a strategy, not just for technology but for the adoption and the outcomes of the technology," he said.

 To learn more:
- find the report
- here's the announcement

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