The current healthcare IT Revolution started almost five years ago with the advent of the HITECH Act and federal mandates forcing healthcare facilities and providers to automate their medical records and achieve Meaningful Use.
Health informatics is at the forefront for the revolution, combining the business of healthcare, information technology, and the patient care experience. It is the broad cross-disciplinary term inclusive of all informatics areas and has led to an explosion of informatics-oriented positions across all types of healthcare organizations: providers, payers, vendors, consulting firms, government, higher education, pharmaceuticals, start-ups, and international global businesses.
The factors that have increased the demand for informatics professionals include:
- Implementation of Electronic Medical Record (EMR) and Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) systems
- Patient safety and clinical quality
- Public reporting, transparency, consumer-driven healthcare
- Clinical transformation projects
- More spending on clinical automation and medical imaging
Some of the main sub-disciplines of health informatics include: biomedical informatics, medical informatics, clinical informatics, nursing informatics, pharmacy informatics, public health informatics, business informatics and health information management (HIM).
Recent surveys by HIMSS regarding health IT roles show the increased demand for the importance of health informatics and clinical IT roles. These roles were mentioned as the most in-demand staffing needs for senior IT executives in 2013, according to the 24th Annual HIMSS Leadership Survey, sponsored by Infor. The 2013 HIMSS Workforce Survey provides a good overview of health IT hiring practices.
In my healthcare IT executive search practice, I hear from hiring managers who are seeking individuals with the following “ideal” traits for a health informatics or clinical IT leader:
- Five-plus years experience as a practicing clinician
- Five-plus years in a leadership role in information technology or an informatics department
- Five-plus years experience in direct clinical systems implementation and process re-design
- Practical experience with electronic medical record (EHR) systems in both hospital and ambulatory settings
- Extensive experience in managing clinical IT staff and other healthcare IT professionals
Informatics and clinical IT leadership titles can vary depending on the organization, size of staff and the scope of their responsibilities. Here are some of the titles we are seeing in our healthcare IT executive search work:
- Chief Medical Informatics Officer
- Chief Nursing Informatics Officer
- Chief Clinical Information Officer
- Vice President, EMR Implementation
- System Director, Health Informatics
- Medical Director, Informatics
- Regional Chief Nursing Information Officer
- Associate Vice President, Nursing Informatics
- Director, Nursing Informatics
- Director, Clinical Informatics
The healthcare revolution and the need for health informatics professionals will not diminish in the foreseeable future. Salaries are increasing and the talent pool is growing slowly. Organizations will need talent to analyze and optimize the “big” clinical data related to patient-care experience and population health. Large health systems are adding corporate-level health informatics leaders to oversee informatics centralization across multiple facilities and regions.
Clearly, the revolution will mean great opportunity for professionals who pursue careers in Health Informatics.