Health IT Staff May Not Mature Fast Enough To Handle EMR Growth

Getting enough bodies in the door to roll out and stabilize your EMR the first time is labor-intensive enough.  After all, mounting an enterprise EMR isn’t just a job, it’s a project that combines the delicacy of painting the Sistine Chapel roof on your back with the complexity of a thousand-way chess game.

But that’s just the beginning. The truth is, once the dust begins to settle, the EMR isn’t done, it’s just completed its first stage of evolution. It’s at that critical point, where your youthful EMR begins to mature and grow more diverse, that the real health IT staff crunch is likely to hit, according to a new PwC study.

To make sure they have staffers who can handle not only launch but also ongoing development of their EMR, healthcare organizations have been investing in informatics specialists, particularly those who can handle EMR implementation, data integration and interoperability.

The thing is that (not surprisingly) they’re having trouble finding the specialists they need. PwC’s Health Research Institute’s recent survey concluded that four in ten hospitals surveyed feels that a lack of skilled informatics team members will hold back their clinical informatics programs.

In what may be worse news, PwC researchers found that half of hospital and physician respondents found that clinical and technology teams  are misaligned right now, and that unless the two sides come together, it’s  unlikely they’ll be able to put advanced analytics in place in doctors’ daily workflow.

It’s hardly surprising that there would be a shortage of clinical informatics specialists, given that theh American Board of Medical Specialties approved clinical informatics as a board-certified medical subspecialty in just September 2011.  On the other hand, my gut feeling is that there are more IT friendly doctors and nurses who could be cross-trained relatively quickly than they’ve accounted for yet.

I think hospitals are more likely to meet their informatics recruitment goals if they do as much to develop internal talent as hunt for fresh blood. How about you?

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

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