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The Healthcare industry is being impacted by historic changes that will continue to challenge the industry into the foreseeable future. Technology will continue to be an essential player driving and supporting industry needs to increase efficiency, improve patient care and ensure compliance with government regulations.

TEKsystems’ Healthcare IT Workforce Snapshot is designed to provide a high-level view of trends impacting IT spending and IT employment within the healthcare industry. This report can help healthcare organizations create a benchmark for comparing IT goals with industry peers and provide a reality check for potential challenges related to securing the right IT professionals.

IT Spending Projections

The 2012 projected spending on healthcare IT in the U.S. is expected to be $65 billion. The largest buckets of IT spending are IT Services ($21.8 billion), Software ($11.2 billion), Telecom ($9.4 billion) and Hardware ($4.2 billion)1.
Approximately half of healthcare IT leaders anticipate spending on IT infrastructure (51 percent) and IT applications (49 percent) to increase during 2012. Additionally, nearly 30 percent of these IT leaders expect IT infrastructure (29 percent) and IT applications (28 percent) spending to rise by 5 percent or more2.

The majority of IT decision makers expect spending to stay the same in IT outsourcing (52 percent), IT education and training (56 percent) and off-shore and near-shore (70 percent) in the first part of 20122.

Several IT projects will be top priorities for healthcare IT leaders in 2012. Recent research indicates mobility projects are number one with 76 percent citing implementation plans over the next 12 months. The top five projects on healthcare IT leaders’ priorities, with more than 40 percent citing plans to implement such projects in 2012, are regulatory compliance (67 percent), virtual desktops (55 percent), business intelligence (43 percent) and master data management (42 percent)3.

Healthcare, like many other industries, is feeling the impact from trends like mobility and virtualization as well as regulatory compliance. Workers want to use their new tablets, smartphones and other tech toys for both work and pleasure, but most company infrastructures are not able to support those demands, says TEKsystems Vice President of Healthcare Services Allen Kriete. For example, doctors want to be able to use their iPads during patient appointments and on the road, allowing them to be more flexible and available for patients. Federal regulations are driving the change whether organizations like it or not and if these updates are not made the repercussions will definitely be felt.

IT Hiring Expectations

To support the growing demands for better, faster and more cost-effective HIT, healthcare organizations must seriously consider their workforce strategies. about half of healthcare IT leaders surveyed expect their temporary (50 percent) and permanent (54 percent) IT headcount to stay the same in 2012. However, about 40 percent anticipate their temporary (41 percent) and permanent (38 percent) IT hiring will increase in 20122.

Of the healthcare IT leaders expecting to grow their teams in 2012, more than 20 percent anticipate their permanent (21 percent) and temporary (22 percent) IT staffs to increase 1 to 5 percent with about 10 percent foreseeing increases of 6 percent or more2.

Sometimes the term ‘war for talent’ is overused, but there is a true battle for the healthcare industry’s top IT talent. The majority of healthcare organizations in all segments of the industry are, or will be, implementing the same IT initiatives over the next couple of years making it difficult to find the best talent in an already limited resource pool. Regardless, it is critical to hire the right IT skills to ensure compliance to government regulations for meaningful use, comments Kriete. Taking advantage of workforce planning models allows companies to ramp up or down depending on their most urgent needs at any time. Roles that are fundamental to a program requiring constant improvement may be hired on a permanent basis, but a more project-oriented role could be brought in on a contract basis.

Supply and Demand for Healthcare IT Professionals 

Demand for IT professionals with healthcare specific experience remains high. According to CareerBuilder, the number of “healthcare IT” related positions have increased approximately 250 percent from May 2010 to April 2012. Further, the current labor pressure is 0.14 nationwide—meaning there are 0.14 job seekers for every healthcare IT position4.

Back in 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimated a shortfall of 51,000 qualified healthcare IT workers over the next five years. According to the most recent research released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there has been a positive change in demand for HIT professionals year-over-year. In recent years, many of the skills essential to successful healthcare IT initiatives saw demand increases of more than 5 percent including Database Administrators (14.2 percent), Information Security Analysts, Web Developers and Computer Network Architects (12.8 percent), Software Developers–Applications (10.8 percent), Computer Support Specialists (10 percent), Computer and Information Systems Managers (5.9 percent), and Computer Systems Analysts (5.2 percent). Further, the BLS reports that healthcare IT employment is expected to continue to grow, expanding by 36 percent through 20206.

Based on additional BLS data, total healthcare employment is approximately 8 million people. of that population, there are approximately 120,000 healthcare IT professionals in the U.S., which accounts for about 1.5 percent of the total U.S. healthcare workforce6.

TEKsystems research corroborates steady demand. The number of job requisitions for IT professionals with healthcare experience increased 43.3 percent from 2011 to 2012.

No strategy can be implemented without the right team in place. It is vital for organizations to stay at the forefront of training and developing both recently graduated IT professionals, and seasoned IT resources with other experience outside of healthcare. Healthcare IT providers need to understand what resources organizations will need most, says Kriete. They must also contribute to building a resource pool of newly trained healthcare IT professionals capable of helping those healthcare organizations achieve their goals. If the industry does not continue growing that resource pool, the demand will continue to significantly outpace the supply and organizations will suffer the consequences from the gap in resources.

Hot Healthcare IT Skills

To fulfill the massive labor shortage of more than 50,000 healthcare IT professionals, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced awards totaling more than $80 million to slightly more than a dozen universities and junior colleges. The goal of these awards is to train and develop a new pool of healthcare IT professionals to meet the significant demand the industry requires. To support this effort, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) identified 12 key roles that educational programs should be built around that are critical to the healthcare delivery system and supporting public healthcare organizations5.

These twelve key healthcare IT roles include:

  1. Practice workflow and information management redesign specialists
  2. Clinician/practitioner consultants
  3. Implementation support specialists
  4. Implementation managers
  5. Technical/software support
  6. Trainers
  7. Clinician or public health leaders
  8. Health information management and exchange specialists
  9. Health information privacy and security specialists
  10. Research and development scientists
  11. Programmers and software engineers
  12. Health IT sub-specialists

Understanding the skills necessary for successful IT initiatives is paramount. If you don’t understand your resource gaps, you will not know who to look for or where to find them. Once you grasp those needs, you can develop a strategy to attract, develop and retain those IT professionals, comments Kriete. Due to several legislative initiatives that have put strict timelines around compliance, it is important for healthcare organizations to take action now or face an uphill battle to secure the necessary healthcare IT talent

Compensation

The skills the BLS identified as experiencing the greatest year-after-year growth are among the top paying jobs in the healthcare IT field to date. The best IT professionals in these fields can make $100,000 per year or more. The annual median salary for these skills is more than $70,000 with the exception of Computer Support Specialists who can still earn around $70,000 per year if among the top 10 percent of Computer Support Specialists6.

Occupation - Annual Median Salary

Computer and Information Systems Managers - $104,490

Software Developers Systems Software - $86,490

Software Developers Applications - $80,510

Database Administrators - $67,760

Computer Systems Analysts - $71,820

Information Security Analysts Web Developers and Computer Network Architects - $70,980

Computer Support Specialists - $45,230

According to IT decision makers in the healthcare industry, Mobile Application Developers, Security Specialists and Business Intelligence Specialists can expect salary increases upwards of 10% in 2012. Other roles like Enterprise Architects, Data/Master Data Management Architects and Cloud Architects are likely to experience raises in the 1 to 5 percent range3.

Compensation is always an important factor to IT professionals. But more often than not, many employers realize the desire to develop and enhance skills and career advancement opportunities can outweigh financial compensation. Developing a robust employee value proposition can help organizations attract the right people, says Kriete. Healthcare is one of the few industries right now that can offer all of the things IT professionals are looking for: skill development, career advancement and competitive compensation.

Geographical Demand for Healthcare IT Professionals

Over the past year, all regions in the U.S., except for the Midwest, experienced significant increases in demand for IT professionals. According to TEKsystems data, the largest increase in demand for healthcare IT professionals in 2012 is in the Southeast where job requisitions rose 74 percent. The Northeast region (47 percent), Central region (43 percent), West region (33 percent) and Midwest (17 percent) regions saw lower, but very positive, increases in demand.

Job postings on CareerBuilder.com from 2011 to 2012 also reveal large increases in demand for IT professionals with healthcare experience across the country. The percentage change in demand for these workers is highest in Washington (175 percent), Missouri (150 percent), New Jersey (140 percent), Michigan (120 percent) and South Carolina (91 percent)7.

The demand for healthcare will continue to remain high and organizations will have to keep up with the changing needs of their customers, says Kriete. While some regions may see higher demand for IT professionals than others, make no mistake that the fight for qualified IT talent will continue to escalate as long as demand exceeds supply. To avoid pitfalls during critical projects, organizations should conduct a gap analysis to understand in-house skills and determine the most effective strategy to find, hire and retain the best people, concludes Kriete.

Footnotes

1Gartner Forecast: Enterprise IT Spending by Vertical Industry Market, Worldwide, 2010-2016, March 2012

2TEKsystems IT Executive outlook Survey, March 2012

3TEKsystems IT Executive outlook Survey, December 2011

4CareerBuilder, Supply & Demand Portal, 2012

5Darling, G. (2010, April 13). Educational Funding for 12 Key Healthcare IT Workforce Roles on the Way. Healthcare IT Today. Retrieved from http://healthcareittoday.com/2010/04/13/educational-fundingfor-12-key-healthcare-it-workforce-roles/

6U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, March 2012

7CareerBuilder, Talent Intelligence Portal, 2012

About TEKsystems

People are at the heart of every successful business initiative. At TEKsystems, we understand people. Every year we deploy over 80,000 IT professionals at 6,000 client sites across North America, Europe and Asia. Our deep insights into IT human capital management enable us to help our clients achieve their business goals – while optimizing their IT workforce strategies. We provide IT staffing solutions, IT talent management expertise and IT services to help our clients plan, build and run their critical business initiatives. Through our range of quality-focused delivery models, we meet our clients where they are, and take them where they want to go, the way they want to get there.