Question: Should You Consider A Career In Healthcare Information Technology?

Healthcare is one of the largest industries in the U.S. and it continues to grow. To service this growing sector the federal government awarded $84 million in grants to create intensive Healthcare I.T. curricula citing the need for 50,000 new health care information technology jobs during the next five years. In addition, a survey of Healthcare Information Management Executives found that more than 70 percent say their organizations lack the information technology staff to implement applications. Healthcare I.T. professionals with proper training will have a plethora of career opportunities for decades to come.

But is this a career path for you? I was prompted to pose this question for a couple reasons, beginning with a most recent reply to my two-year long running blog entitled, I Got Certified for Healthcare IT Jobs – You Can Too! (…still the most popular replied to blog here at HealthcareITToday.com) I have received several hundred replies (I have lost count of the exact number of replies to this blog )…but I do know that 99.9% have been overwhelmingly positive and express gratitude to the information exchange I have provided based on this blog title.

But occasionally I get one or two replies like the one recently posted by someone named ‘Minnie’ – she wrote “I’ve read your blog here and it appears to really just be a whole bunch of nothing. You can’t help anyone to get certified because they first must have the credentials to get hired at a facility using Epic to even have a remote chance at certification. Your blog seems to be a way for you to brag on yourself and not to help others. Stop trying to make it seem like you know some insider industry information when you really are clueless.”

“Really Minnie – moi clueless?? and on myself – “brag about it??” (…well maybe a little, but only after I shop at the Burlington Coat Factory…Ha!, Ha!)”. But seriously folks, my reply to Minnie provoked this blog title I have posed today, as a very useful question…Thanks!

Dear “Minnie”,

Your perspective seems very narrow; perhaps you are frustrated about your own journey attempting to get in this industry, not sure, but based on the type of criteria you are attempting to describe, it sounds like you may be speaking about just one type of Epic Electronic Medical Records (EMR) ‘Job Role’ as a Credentialed Trainer. There are many additional EMR job titles, as well. In the Epic EMR application space – Credential Trainers are the folks who get trained ‘in house’ by the Principle Trainers (PT). PT’s are sent out by their hospital employer and get the opportunity to through this EMR vendor’s training program. I have always stated that the only way to get Epic EMR certification is through Epic Systems, Inc. and one must be sent to their facility through a hospital employer who is installing this vendor’s EMR or through one of their consulting agency ‘partners’.

Since I have been in this specific Healthcare IT industry for eight years now, I’m able to share with my blogging audience how I got started in this dynamic, yet very challenging Electronic Medical Records (EMR) world, by first being employed by a hospital employer and how that employer sent me (and many others) out to Epic for their training program. As far as I know this is still the method most folks get this opportunity for Epic EMR certification. This experience is what I share with people, mainly because this is what people want to know about and have asked me to share. Sorry for you Minnie, if you feel I’m ‘bragging’, just know that this is not bragging, what I do is to provide my Healthcare IT career experience regarding how I had the sense to transition into this field over eight (8) years ago, how I had to study really hard, complete required assignments and final exams. I was then fortunate enough get a great but very challenging opportunity to travel around this country to some of the top rated hospitals and get practical experience in applying what I’m certified to implement. This is my specific EMR career path, that has worked extremely well for me and many, many others like me as well!

In addition to EMR / EHR vendor training, there are other methods to get Health Information Technology career training. As the nation moves toward a more technologically advanced health care system, providers are going to need highly skilled health IT experts to support them in the adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records. To help address this growing demand, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has funded the Health IT Workforce Development Program. The goal is to train a new workforce of health IT professionals who will be ready to help providers implement electronic health records to improve health care quality, safety, and cost-effectiveness. Following are some of the Health IT Workforce Job Roles defined through this program:

1. Practice Workflow and Information Management Redesign Specialist
General Description: Workers in this role assist in reorganizing the work of a provider to take full advantage of the features of health IT in pursuit of meaningful use of health IT to improve health and care.

Suggested Background: Individuals in this role may have backgrounds in health care (for example, as a practice administrator) or in information technology, but are not licensed clinical professionals.

2. Implementation Support Specialist
General Description: Workers in this role provide on-site user support for the period of time before and during implementation of health IT systems in clinical and public health settings. These individuals will provide support services, above and beyond what is provided by the vendor, to be sure the technology functions properly and is configured to meet the needs of the redesigned practice workflow.

Suggested Background: Individuals training for this role will have a general background in information technology or health information management.

3. Implementation Manager
General Description: Workers in this role provide on-site management of mobile adoption support teams for the period of time before and during implementation of health IT systems in clinical and public health settings.

Suggested Background: Workers in this role will, prior to training, have experience in health and/or IT environments as well as some administrative or managerial experience.

4. Technical/Software Support Staff
General Description: Workers in this role will support on an ongoing basis the technology deployed in clinical and public health settings. Workers in this role maintain systems in clinical and public health settings, including patching and upgrading of software. They also provide one-on-one support, in a traditional “help desk” model, to individual users with questions or problems.

Suggested Background: Individuals training for this role will have a general background in information technology or health information management.

5. Trainer
General Description: Workers in this role design and deliver training programs, using adult learning principles, to employees in clinical and public health settings.

Suggested Background: The previous background of workers in this role includes experience as a health professional, health information management specialist, or medical librarian. Experience as a trainer in the classroom is also desired.

Happy New New Minnie! I hope all of this information I have detailed, shows I have absolutely no “insider information”. What I know and have shared here is all out there in the ‘public domain’. My goal in sharing my professional experience in my blogs these past few years, is clearly to help others who can help themselves, like I was able to accomplish eight years ago regarding the Health IT Industry.

About the author

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Shirley Corsey

Shirley Corsey is a certified Electronic Medical Records (EMR) Consultant/Road Warrior, and owner of her own online training center for the Healthcare Information Technology industry. She is a seasoned Healthcare IT professional with over 25 years experience, with a recent career focus for the past 9 years in the EMR job market.

5 Comments

  • Hi Shirley,
    Thank you for providing this information as well as sharing your experiences in this field. As a graduate of the ONC program, I have had difficulty finding an EHR position. Several of these programs are now shutting down due to lack of continued funding as well as lack of enrollments. I teach components of the ONC program in two colleges as well. I challenge the ONC to provide the actual numbers of people that have been placed into EHR positions from these programs, as well as provide the lists of available internship opportunities for these graduates. HIT is a promising field indeed, however, from my experience it appears that you need to have a clinical background (RN, coder, etc.) or very extensive IT skills to get in. I am sure that the statistics you quote relative to the lack of IT staff needed is true, but I would like to see these hospital and health care organization leaders put their money where their mouth is and begin to hire ONC graduates.

  • Hi Carmine,

    I (and thousands of others, I’m afraid) join you in your frustration with the lack of follow through on the part of the ONC when it comes to properly preparing graduates to enter the HIT workforce. In a recent blog post for Healthcare Informatics, I wrote about the hidden talent pool of ONC program graduates, and the fact the a recent CHIME survey indicated that CIOs had not been inclined to hire them (and weren’t planning to). Here’s the link: http://www.healthcare-informatics.com/blogs/gwen-darling/chime-survey-points-0

    In that blog post, I made a few suggestions as to how this tremendous injustice could be righted, and asked for others’ opinions on what can be done. Not one comment was added, which is both surprising, and sad. I’d welcome your continued insight either here, or following the Healthcare Informatics blog post, and also encourage you to register as a job seeker and post your resume on http://www.HealthcareITCentral.com in the hopes that we have some visionary employers who are looking for someone with you exact experience!

    Thanks for taking the time to comment ~

    Gwen Darling

  • Carmine and Gwen,

    Perhaps a campaign directly pointed to the ONC regarding this issue would be something we could initiate. We have been hearing about methods and training programs put in place by the ONC to colleges and universities for the past three years now and these ongoing Health IT Workforce shortages still exist!! Seems like we need to know what kind of support will the ONC provide for job placement?

    Thanks,
    Shirley Corsey

  • Gwen and Shirley,

    Thanks for responding to me and yes Gwen, I did read that insightful blog post you wrote. It is a good idea to focus on the ONC but after what I have seen lately coming from Washington, I do not know how much will change. Instead, if we could get the backing of a large organization or EHR vendor which wants to make a difference in community healthcare, we may be able to design and implement a large scale informatics program which utilizes the skills and knowledge of the ONC graduates. For example, look at what Dr. Oz has been doing in partnership with Practice Fusion:
    http://www.practicefusion.com/ehrbloggers/2012/12/practice-fusion-dr-oz-saving-lives-with-free-health-technology.html
    Now, if we take this idea further – and it doesn’t have to be with PF or Dr. Oz, and begin having ONC graduates go into the affected communities (with medical personnel) and collect health data into an EHR, not only do they get the practical experience of using an EHR but they get to help detect and track health problems, which could make a difference in improving community health care.

    This can be done.
    Carmine

  • Hello,

    I appreciate someone like you sharing your experience to people like me who are interested in breaking into this industry.

    Are you still providing online training? If so when does the next class start?

    Thanks for your time,
    Demetria

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