Health systems are bringing a range of new technology tools into the fold—advanced analytics, smartphone apps, virtual care and more. But building and maintaining those programs requires skills and training from employees beyond traditional information technology functions, pitting healthcare organizations against new competitors for technology talent. Modern Healthcare technology reporter Jessica Kim Cohen caught up with three chief information officers from a cross section of health systems to discuss how their organizations’ technology workforces have changed and what challenges they’ve run into when recruiting for new roles. The panel included Jake Dorst, CIO and chief innovation officer at Tahoe Forest Health System in Truckee, Calif.; Pete Marks, vice president and CIO at WakeMed Health & Hospitals in Raleigh, N.C.; and Ellen Wiegand, vice president and CIO at Virginia Mason Health System in Seattle.The following is an edited transcript.
MH: How has the composition of your organization’s technology workforce changed over the past five years? What teams have you added or built out?
Marks: The big one right now for us is analytics. Over the history of information services, we would be buying systems or making investments, and those investments would be primarily focused on workflow and making sure that there’s an integrated workflow—but now it’s all about what happens with all the data from all these different systems.
Dorst: There are a lot more clinical people now than there used to be historically in the IT department, which is a good thing. It cuts down on the time it takes to really understand what your users’ pain points are.
Wiegand: We’ve had, as most have had, an increasing emphasis on security. While we’ve always had a security team, we’ve really beefed up that team over the last several years. We’ve also consolidated our privacy and security programs, so we’re working as one now to address both of those concerns under the guidance of a chief information security officer, which is a new role for Virginia Mason for the last several years.
MH: When you’re launching a project in need of a new skill set, how do you decide when to recruit new staff and when to train current staff?