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Some Providers Delaying IT Initiatives Because of Staffing Shortages

July 11, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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HIMSS Analytics, the research arm of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, recently conducted a survey that revealed most healthcare provider organizations and IT vendors are planning on hiring more employees in the coming year. A number of providers say becasue of staffing shortages they are putting an IT initiative on hold.

According to the survey of 224 executives working for providers and health IT vendors, 79 percent of respondents are planning on hiring additional staff in the future. For 2012, 85 percent said they hired at least one employee, while only 13 percent reported implementing layoffs during the same time.

One-third of healthcare provider organizations indicated that they had to place an IT initiative on hold due to staffing shortages.

JoAnn W. Klinedinst, vice president of professional development for HIMSS, said in a statement: “Delaying IT initiatives because of staffing issues only creates inefficiencies and hinders technological advances like interoperability initiatives.  In turn, this can reduce provider effectiveness and negatively impact patient care.

The survey, which was sponsored by Medix IT, a recruitment and staffing services firm, looked at the hiring trends and barriers for provider organizations and IT vendors. It found that in 2012, the two groups were hiring in different employment areas. For providers, it was clinical application support positions and help desk IT staff, while vendors targeted sales and marketing additions.

It also found that both groups said competitive salary and benefit programs were critical to hiring qualified personnel. In terms of retention, both said professional development opportunities were the best way to retain staff (60 percent of provider organizations; 64 percent vendor organizations).

One trend that is emerging on the provider side is outsourcing. HIMSS analytics found that 76 percent of healthcare provider organization currently outsources a service rather than hiring directly; while 93 percent have plans to outsource an area in the next year. Recently, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) outsourced transcription jobs to Nuance.

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