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All Things HIT

Feb 28 2012   8:57AM GMT

EHR employment, listening to the cry!

Posted by: AllinHIT
EHR training, ONC, Workforce Development Program

During the end of February, I had many discussions on the topic of health IT jobs with some of the graduates of the HHS/ONC workforce development program.  Summarizing, there was a feeling that EHR vendors, hospitals, and other possible employers were requiring specific health IT vendor solution certifications as a pre-requisite even for an interview.  Needless to say, with these new graduates lacking certifications, employers are turning to consulting firms and temp agencies for these resources. 

This got me asking: what changes can be implemented in the workforce programs to address this? What can employers do?  After all, it’s the vendors and hospitals that need these resources to implement EHR technologies. 

To meet the demand for workers with health IT experience and training, the Obama Administration has launched four workforce development programs that help train the new health IT workforce.  The training is provided through 82 community colleges and nine universities nationwide.  As of October 2011, community colleges have had 5,717 professionals successfully complete their training in health information technology.  Currently there are 10,065 students enrolled in the training programs across the nation.  As of November 2011, universities have graduated over 500 post-graduate and masters-level health IT professionals, with over 1700 expected to graduate by July 2013.

Over the summer I remember a Wall Street Journal Article printed July 9th, “A Reliable Job Engine Starts to Lose Steam”, which describes how the heated health care job market is cooling, noting that the number of hospital jobs declined by 4,000 in June, the first month-over-month drop since last year.  Of course, they describe the health care sector is a victim of the economy, Medicaid budget cuts, and uncertainties concerning the effects of healthcare reform.  However, the article failed to mention hospital’s draining their resources for meeting meaningful use and other technological initiatives.

The article itself notes that legislation giving more individuals health insurance in turn gives our industry a long-term healthy outlook, and provides a great example of how clinical jobs increased at the expense of administrative and support personnel at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Illnois.  Hospitals all over are realigning resources to meet this demand.  However, its the Workforce Development program that needs to realign its program.  

The workforce development program needs to give incentives to hospitals, providers and others who employ these graduates from the program.  This will “make up” for the training costs that they will incur by hiring these health IT newbies.  Additionally, this will solve the lack of human resources very needed in this HITECH world.  ONC: are you listening?!

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