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Has Healthcare IT Suddenly Become . . . Sexy?

May 28, 2009
by Gwen Darling
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In just the last few days, I have received two related queries, which lead me to believe that being a part of the HIT industry has suddenly become very desirable

In just the last few days, I have received two separate, but related queries, which lead me to believe that being a part of the Healthcare IT industry has suddenly become very desirable.


The first from an experienced Project Management Consultant:


“I wanted your opinion on whether an Electronic Health Records (EHR) implementation Project Management Professional (PMP) should or should not be an RN to manage a changeover from manual records keeping to EHR. Are there legal issues that prevent a non-clinical PMP from handling the changeover for a medical institution?”

And the second from the editor of a national publication who is working on an article about executives from other industries who desire to transition into the healthcare industry:

“How does an executive who has worked in other industries best position himself for an executive post in healthcare in the eyes of an employer and a recruiter?”

Due to my experience and current role at HealthcareITCentral.com, I felt qualified to answer the second question, beginning by mentioning the availability of Online Health Informatics programs such as the one at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I then pointed out that certain channels like sales and marketing share core fundamentals across disciplines, and shared my opinion that a very sharp cookie who was a quick study could be successful in those specific areas. And of course it goes without saying (but I said it anyway) that the candidate needs to be as competitive as possible in the business etiquette department, armed with a firm handshake, table manners, and the ability to pose intelligent end-of-interview questions.

But what about the first question?

My granddad used to say, “The mark of a smart man is to know when you don’t know.” Well I’m a smart (wo)man. Smart enough to know that my background and experience does not give me the tools to answer this question with any authority. But because of my position, I get this question, or some version of it, quite frequently. So, I put the question forth to those of you knee-deep in the EHR implementation trenches, and await and appreciate your counsel:

To paraphrase the source, “Should an EHR implementation PMP be a medical professional?”

I do realize that there’s no easy yes or no answer to this question, but welcome all opinions and insights so that I can share them with my inquiring readers.

In the meantime, it appears the word may be out that Healthcare IT has a promising and oh-so-desirable future – a future that many experienced professionals from other industries want to be a part of. It seems that Healthcare IT has suddenly become . . . sexy! But we all knew that long ago, right?



I have worked with many EHR implementation PMPs that were previously medical professionals.

It is very common for clinicians to join the healthcare IT domain. I know of many doctors and nurses that wouldn't trade their current IT roles for clinical ones.

The HL7 Guy

Gwen: Wow! Lots of things to consider here. Jow thanks for the link to your content. I will check it out.

I don't think it's absolutely mandatory, but it certainly doesn't hurt. Medical professionals who want to get into this space have a few unique advantages over their non-medically oriented counterparts. A big one that might be overlooked is the fact that physicians are more likely to accept the massive Rx for change when it's coming from another physician or nurse.

There's plenty of space right now, and there's a real need for that combination of clinical and technical know-how.

Changing careers and moving into the healthcare space is not an easy transition. The good news is that the industry is HUGE and there are plenty of career opportunities!

I also get calls from candidates that want advice on how to make the move and I always want to start with "what is it that you would like to do"? If they can't answer that question it makes it very difficult to give them candid advice. So I always like to understand what functional role they would like to have before I get too far into the conversation.

There's a conference that I've cited before:


There, you'll see my presentation scheduled on Non-Clinical Careers for Physicians in Medical Informatics. I've done this talk before to a packed auditorium of physicians in Washington DC.

See my prior post "7 Killer Career Self-Assessment Questions" for related content.

The HL7 Guy's noteworthy observation about not trade roles is a recurring refrain I hear as well.