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9/26/2012
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8 Health IT Certifications That Pack Career Power

You don't always need a master's program to break into health IT. These non-degree programs offer viable options for many job seekers.
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At the inaugural InformationWeek Healthcare CIO Roundtable in July 2012, some of America's most influential healthcare CIOs lamented that a workforce training initiative from the federal Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) was not helping to ease the severe shortage of health IT talent, at least not on the provider side.

"The people coming out of the ONC workforce training programs don't have any practical experience," said Rebecca Armato, executive director for physician and interoperabililty services at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, Calif.

"But I don't think that's a reason not to do the training programs," added Gary Christensen, CIO and COO of the Rhode Island Quality Institute, which serves as a Beacon Community Regional Extension Center and health information exchange. "I don't think it was a bad idea to try to start creating curriculum and programs to get people thinking about these careers earlier."

Though they may lack real-world experience, people who successfully complete an ONC-funded training program at community colleges across the country receive a professional certificate of completion, attesting to prospective employers that they have certain skills to enter the health IT workforce.

Certificate holders should understand healthcare-specific regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy and security rules. They should understand how electronic health records (EHRs) are transforming healthcare, and how the conversion to ICD-10 coding, Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) X12 version 5010 electronic transaction standards, and new reimbursement models are straining IT departments.

Similarly, non-university health IT certificate programs--more online than in a classroom these days--exist for people who want to break into health IT on their own schedules. These, as IT consultant and security consultant Michael Shannon recently told InformationWeek Healthcare, can be quite useful. "If I were a young person wanting to get into health IT, I would probably bypass the university system and try to get certification, do online training," he said.

Those with years of experience can burnish their credentials, too, by taking refresher courses, upgrading skills with continuing education, and sitting for a professional certification exam.

Whether earned through a community college, a professional membership society, or a private training company, a non-degree certification--and a few extra letters after your name--can command a lot of respect. Dig into our slideshow to take a closer look at some of the health IT certification options available to you.

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jaysimmons
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jaysimmons,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/14/2012 | 5:21:29 AM
re: 8 Health IT Certifications That Pack Career Power
I actually quite prefer people who have had outside IT experience. They often bring a fresh perspective that's so needed in Health IT.
pbug
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pbug,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/3/2012 | 7:29:07 PM
re: 8 Health IT Certifications That Pack Career Power
What do you consider real world experience? Do you include IT people with decades of programming, project management, etc. - or do you only look at people who have piles of time in health care also? My frustration comes from hiring managers and recruiters who don't care what 'outside' IT experience you have if it wasn't in hospitals and the like - even though you've taken ONC training to prepare you for the health care environment.
pbug
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pbug,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/3/2012 | 7:26:45 PM
re: 8 Health IT Certifications That Pack Career Power
Rumor has it that one of these years the HIT Pro exams that come after ONC training might actually lead to a certification. BUT, and it's a big but, many hospital groups do not see any value at all in this training or exam set, and will only hire people with clinical experience OR maybe heavy hospital IT experience. Too many people I've talked to who've gone through this have not found any jobs they are considered qualified for even though they are IT professionals with lots of project management experience - they don't have it in hospitals, so the training 'doesn't count' to many recruiters.
jaysimmons
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jaysimmons,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/30/2012 | 5:35:32 AM
re: 8 Health IT Certifications That Pack Career Power
It's great that these certifications are also requiring real world experience before certifying. When looking at candidates, I like to see that they have actually been in the field and know what it's like. I want them to not just be able to talk the talk, which is what many of the certifications I've seen out there are. I've seen quite a few applicants with no real world experience but with a certificate try to apply for rather high-level jobs, it seems a bit strange. I will definitely be writing these certifications down to give a second look at when reviewing resumes.
Jay Simmons
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