Federal official discusses need for health IT experts

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Speaking at a conference hosted by a business school based in North Carolina, a leading federal official pointed out that the growing health informatics industry has a strong demand for professionals skilled in IT.

During his keynote address, Ned Ellington told listeners that more than 30,000 healthcare facilities and organizations around the country will soon begin implementing electronic health record (EHR) technology and other health informatics tools.

Ellington, an official working in the U.S. Health Information Technology Research Center in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, added that those who wish to be successful in this field can seek out training in the world of IT.

“The talent can reside within the organization or with a vendor, a regional extension center or an academic center,” he said. “But you need someone skilled in technology to align the processes you need with your organizational strategy.”

According to its website, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is the foremost federal agency tasked with aiding hospitals and other healthcare facilities around the country as they implement EHR systems in accordance with governmental provisions. The office dates back to 2004 and received its first legislative mandate in 2009. Duties include ensuring security of patient information, cutting healthcare costs, coordinating care-related information, improving public health activities, facilitating research and more.

“The conversion to Electronic Health Records is driving a boom in healthcare information technology jobs,” said Eric Ford, a professor who helped organize the Electronic Health Record Implementation Conference. “Most experts believe there will be tens of thousands of positions to be filled over the next five years.”