Compiled By CityTownInfo.com Staff
February 3, 2010
The push by healthcare providers to create electronic medical record systems is creating demand for new talent.
Government Technology reports that hospitals are interested in converting to electronic health records now because last year's American Reinvestment and Recovery Act set aside $19 billion in incentives for systems that meet specific criteria. Dr. Mark Leavitt, chairman of the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology, referred to the stimulus package as "the biggest thing that's ever happened in health IT."
Indeed, the Texas Tribune reports that according to the Office of the National Coordinator in Washington, D.C., the country will need an additional 50,000 skilled workers in the next five years to help convert to electronic health records. To help train students in these new jobs, Texas State University in San Marcos and the University of Texas at Austin are partnering with the University of Texas School of Health Information in Houston to apply for a new federal grant in health information which is expected to bring as much as $6 million to the three schools.
Susan Fenton, an assistant professor at Texas State who is heading the grant application, noted that the demand for technologically skilled workers will be especially high in rural areas in the state. "Not only would they have the demand because they haven't had the resources to implement already," she explained to the Tribune, "but they would also have the most need in terms of the training because it's hard for them to improve staff."
Similarly, Austin Community College began training health IT students this fall after launching a new associate's degree program in health information technology. According to Norma Mercado, the program director, those who enroll in the program are current hospital employees interested in gaining additional skills.
Information Week adds that healthcare IT professionals are probably in the best position to find jobs in 2010. MEDecision, for example, a Pennsylvania-based company specializing in healthcare management solutions, added 50 employees in 2009 and plans to hire another 100 IT and health IT professionals this year, according to CEO Scott Storrer.