Landing a Health Information Technology Job- What Employers are Looking for

August 15, 2012

Health information technology is currently a booming industry thanks in part to things like the HITECH Act and Meaningful Use.  While these measures may bring the creation of many new jobs, H.I.T. professionals must still remain competitive within their field in order to secure the most sought-after positions.  The need for Epic experts, NextGen consultants, McKesson trainers, etc. is certainly there, but candidates must be experienced with the proper certifications to take advantage of the lucrative job market.  What exactly are employers looking for when hiring an H.I.T. professional?  The answer to that question will vary.  However, there are some qualifications that appear to be standardized across most facilities and staffing agencies.

Current H.I.T. Job Market

According to the 2012 HIMSS Leadership Survey, 61% of providers say they are expecting to increase the size of their IT staff in the coming year.  The Department of Labor estimates the need for approximately 50,000 workers in healthcare IT between now and 2014 to help meet the demands associated with Meaningful Use, ICD-10, and other initiatives.  Visit the HealthIT.gov website and a header on one of their pages clearly states, “Health information technology professionals are in demand.”  With the struggling economy the U.S. faces and the alarming rates of unemployment, this is good news for an H.I.T. job seeker.  Luckily for many, the demand for skilled professionals is there.  The ONC has even created a Workforce Development Program with the objective of training a new workforce of H.I.T. professionals who will be ready to implement EMRs and improve healthcare quality, safety, and cost-effectiveness.  The program involves offering millions of dollars in grants to community colleges and universities to develop and improve H.I.T. training programs as well as educational materials and competency exams.

H.I.T. Job Criteria
Clearly, there is not a lack of effort going into training and hiring H.I.T. professionals.  Although, this is not to say that anyone who considers themselves competent in healthcare I.T. can land a job.  There are still standards that candidates must meet and in some cases, facilities or staffing firms can be quite picky.  Certifications are one of the major things employers are looking for in a potential hire. CompTIA, a non-profit IT trade association, conducted a survey in 2011 that found that 64% of IT hiring managers rated IT certifications as having extremely high or high value in validating skills or expertise.  Eight out of 10 H.R. professionals surveyed believed that IT certifications would grow in usefulness and importance over the next two years.  Furthermore, the study suggests that as the criteria for ideal candidates becomes more specific, certifications will become even more important as employers struggle to find individuals to fill job openings.  A translation if you are a job seeker is that certifications matter.  Regardless of the area of practice that is your expertise, be educated on what certifications are available and obtain those that are relevant for the position you seek.

Another key attribute for job seekers is experience.  This can encompass many things, but the most important aspects include what types of software the candidate is familiar with, what specific roles (exp. trainer, project manager, builder, etc.) the individual is capable of filling, and what notable achievements the person boasts.  In fact, in the CompTia study mentioned above, experience, track record, and achievements ranked as the most important attributes when evaluating job candidates.

As far as software, Epic seems to be one of the most in demand applications.  Mr. HIStalk, the man behind the popular H.I.T. website, HIStalk, cites two of the “hot packages” in the industry as being Epic and Cerner.  This can be subjective, however, and as all facilities make the transition to EMRs, other software applications are likely to be just as sought-after.

Looking to desired roles/departments, there are many positions that employers are seeking.  John Hoyt, the executive vice president of HIMSS Analytics, says that clinical application support is in high demand and is “…more competitive than any other market right now.”  “Clinicians and IT combined into one person is a valuable person,” he adds.

Interested in developing a skill set that appeals to staffing firms?  Valuable candidates include those “with full implementation experience that includes build/design, testing, training, implementation, and go-live experience (pre, post, during)” says Lance Harmon, H.I.T. Recruiter at Excite Health Partners.  Cody Ruiz, also an H.I.T. Recruiter at Excite states, “We look for potential candidates that have extensive experience in full life cycle implementations, and certifications with the specific module that they work with. Candidates that have an extensive history working day-in and day-out with Doctors, Nurses, and other Ancillary Staff.”

Beyond experience, one of the most sought-after attributes a job seeker can possess is the ability (and desire) to travel.  With so many EMR projects taking place on a contract basis, those who are willing to take on short-term or long-term assignments can separate themselves from the competition.  John Hoyt even notes that, “I can travel” are “three magic words” that can help solidify a job for recent college grads.

Every facility and recruiting company is different and each one will vary in the types of candidates they require to complete their H.I.T. projects.  However, it is important to remember that the need for H.I.T. professionals is high and it will only gain momentum in the future as technology advances.  For those who are willing to put in the time to gain experience and obtain certifications, they sky is the limit for successful job opportunities.

H.I.T. Jobs
Excite is proud to offer EMR-based jobs to H.I.T. professionals across the country.  Contact us today at 877-803-5804 or visit us online for more information about available opportunities.