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Survey: Strong Demand for Health Information Technology Workers

February 9, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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A new survey from the Washington, D.C.-based multi-stakeholder HIT organization, eHealth Initiative says that better training programs and the Office of the National Coordinator's (ONC) Workforce Development Program needs to fill the health information technology (HIT) employment gap.

The government estimates the healthcare system may need upwards of 50,000 additional employees to implement and sustain HIT in the near future. Results from eHealth’s survey of 196 health information exchange (HIE) initiatives show there is a huge need for workers. Even though more than half of respondents indicated that their organization was small, 58 said that they currently have vacant staff positions. Fifty-five reported that they are short on staff with IT experience.

The ONC's Workforce Development Program could address this issue. The program is tasked with launching and improving HIT programs at colleges and universities across the country and  seeks to train thousands of HIT professionals over the next few years. The survey results demonstrate that many HIEs have not yet begun hiring from the program. Instead, some have turned to consultants to fill the gaps in their workforce, with 62 percent of initiatives that faced a shortage of IT staff planning to hire consultants.

“Clearly there is a great demand for health IT professionals today, with so many HIEs reporting staff vacancies. Unfortunately, the current system is unable to meet that demand. We need to reassess and fine-tune training programs and curriculum so that we can produce the types of workers that HIEs need,” Jennifer Covich Bordenick, eHealth Initiative's chief executive officer, said in a statement.

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