In the midst of the federal push to encourage the adoption of electronic health record (EHR) and other information technology, what’s missing from hospitals? The staff to implement all that technology.
Shortages in the trained health IT workforce are interfering with providers’ ability to install and use EHRs and other clinical systems, according to a recent survey of chief information officers by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME).
Staff who can implement clinical software, from project managers to report writers, are hard to find. Larger academic medical centers and hospitals that are in metropolitan areas and competing for talent find filling those roles especially challenging, the survey respondents said.
In addition, CIOs said they had job openings for trained system and network engineers, database administrators, help desk analysts, desktop technicians and IT supervisors.
Most of the executives CHIME surveyed had few or no plans to increase IT workforce spending in 2011 — the first year in which providers can begin to qualify for incentive payments under the federal meaningful use program. Instead, they expect to rely on third-party consultants and IT specialists brought in by EHR vendors to help with implementation plans, respondents said.
Among the programs being rolled out by the Office for the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to help providers adopt technology are certification and college training courses to bolster the IT workforce.