Nearly two-thirds (65%) of respondents from hospitals said they would be adding staff in their IT departments, while better than a third (38%) of those from medical groups indicated they would be adding IT personnel.
More than a half (58%) of hospital leaders said they have difficulty recruiting or retaining IT workers while a third (33%) of leaders of group practices noted they were experiencing IT staffing troubles.
Healthcare leaders surveyed most commonly cited a dearth of IT professionals in their job market (43%) as the key reason for their hiring difficulties, followed by the high cost of experienced IT people (23%), tight margins in the healthcare industry (19%) and the industry's traditionally lower IT salaries (18%). So far, however, only 14% of all respondents—none from medical groups—reported that employees in their organizations were availing themselves of the IT training opportunities supported by the federal government's IT workforce training programs at community colleges.
Dr. Joel Dickerman's official title with three-facility, 530-bed Memorial Health System in Colorado Springs, Colo., is senior leader for primary care, but like many practitioners with experience and a passion for health IT, his duties include serving as physician champion for the hospital's clinical technology program. Dickerman will help Memorial Health coordinate its EHR system with the rest of the area's provider community. The system's flagship Memorial Hospital has an IT staff of about 100, which Dickerman indicated in the survey could grow by about 10% in a year's time.
The system also has a number of employees, including several nurses, taking community college IT training, he says.
“If we're gong to provide EHR support for community docs, we're going to have to develop a mobile (IT) workforce,” Dickerman says.
He says it's been a “misnomer” that adding an EHR enables an organization to trim its workforce. “You don't necessarily eliminate staff; you have to reassign them,” he says. “And in some ways, you have to replace people with much more expensive employees.”
Home to Colorado State University, Colorado Springs has no shortage of IT talent, but hiring them is another matter, Dickerman says. “It's not hard to find them,” he says. “I think the thing that's surprising is the cost.”