4 Ways to Maximize Health IT Staff

The health care industry is facing a greater IT staff shortage than other industries. Government mandates, such as those for protecting electronic health records, have created many IT heavy projects within the industry. Deadlines imposed by the government are pressuring health care organizations to meet objectives by certain dates, but many organizations lack the necessary staffing to complete these projects.

According to a 2014 survey by Health Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS), one third of managers had to postpone IT projects due to staff shortages. Ernie Hood, senior research director for the Advisory Board Co., told CIO.com that this could illustrate how the demand for health IT might be bigger than budgets allow.

Frank Myeroff, president of Direct Consulting Associates, believes that health IT shortages are only going to get worse. “Technology is moving forward, and we don’t have the staff for it,” he says. “Tens of thousands of jobs are going to be needed and we don’t have the people for it.”

It’s no secret that the health care industry is behind others when it comes to technology and protecting consumers’ private information. Although cybersecurity has become a greater priority for most health care organizations, an HIMSS survey shows that many facilities have experienced a recent security incident. Personal health information is some of the most difficult data to protect due to the large number of medical devices used to share information. As the number of health care attacks continues to grow, so will the importance of having a competent IT staff.

Here are four ways to maximize your organization’s health IT staff:

  1. Hire individuals with a health care background. While some health care companies are attempting to combat the staff shortage by recruiting experienced IT talent from other industries, Hood argues there is no substitute for the unique experience you learn while working in the health care field.
  2. Invest in technology platforms that will grow with your organization and can be implemented quickly. When evaluating IT tools, proving ROI and scalability should be a top priority. Many companies purchase a new tool with the best intentions of using it, only to have it sit on a shelf.
  3. Create CIO positions for physicians with IT experience. The support of other physicians will be extremely important when IT programs arise that disrupt workflow and practice patterns.
  4. Promote a culture within the IT department that encourages staff members to be receptive to what nurses and physicians want. This is crucial for any changes or improvements to become successful.

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