Most Health Care Organizations Aim To Expand IT Staff This Year

About 61% of health care organizations in the U.S. and Canada plan to add IT professionals to their staff this year, according to a study by research firm Computer Economics, TMCNet's "InfoTech Spotlight" reports (Whitney, "InfoTech Spotlight," TMCNet, 8/18).

Study Details, Findings

For the study -- titled, "IT Spending and Staffing Benchmarks 2011/2012" -- researchers interviewed 200 IT executives, including 26 respondents who work in hospitals, pathology labs, nursing homes or medical practice groups.

The study found that 17% of health care organizations plan to reduce their IT staff this year. According to the report, the number of IT workers in the health care industry has expanded by about 3.6% during the past year, while the number of IT workers in other industries has remained relatively flat (Horowitz, eWeek, 8/19).

The study also found that IT operational budgets in the health care industry have grown by about 3.1% in the past year, while IT operational budgets in other sectors have increased by about 2% ("InfoTech Spotlight," TMCNet, 8/18).

Possible Contributing Factors

Rick Kneipper -- chief strategy and innovation officer for health IT services provider Anthelio Healthcare Solutions -- said meaningful use incentive payments and the HITECH Act are helping to fuel an increased demand for health IT workers. Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package's HITECH Act, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

"It's a paradoxical fact that more sophisticated [EHRs] -- which are supposed to make everything electronic and make it go faster, cheaper -- really require significantly more, not less IT support," Kneipper said, adding, "It's going to take more people to run because they're very complex."

Kneipper also predicted that the transition to ICD-10 code sets will further increase the demand for health IT jobs this fall or winter (eWeek, 8/19).

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