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Report: Health IT Facing Significant Worker Shortage

March 12, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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According to a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)’ Health Research Institute (HRI), there is a growing shortage of overall health information technology (IT) workers in the industry. The report indicates that to fill the talent void in the industry, many companies are looking at specialists from other business sectors.

“The challenge for healthcare is not just a shortage of people with technical skills. It’s also a shortage of people with the skills to marry technological savvy with business strategy as healthcare becomes more connected, coordinated and accountable,” Daniel Garrett, principal and PwC’s Health Information Technology practice leader, said in a statement.

“Despite billions of dollars spent investing in HIT, the lack of qualified professionals could slow progress toward quality and efficiency. The benefits of HIT will not be realized until organizations can ensure information is unlocked and integrated in a way to best inform critical business and clinical decision-making.”

According to report’s authors, industry executives showed concern healthcare organizations’ ability to absorb change and integrate HIT into daily activity. Of those surveyed for the report, nearly 80 percent expect increases in IT investment, but more than half (51 percent) fear their staff cannot keep up with the pace of technological change. A whopping 77 percent are revisiting their hiring and promotion strategies to address gaping holes in health IT. Still, three-quarters (75 percent) of providers, such as hospitals and physician groups, say they are hiring new employees to support their IT priorities.

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I agree that the accelerated implementation of Health IT and federal initiatives to reform payment and care delivery models have created a demand for qualified health IT professionals. However, the ONC funded a number of community college and Universities to train individuals to help with this demand. I suggest looking at ONC's healthit.gov website to learn more about these training programs and how to get in touch with graduates of those programs.

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