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7/25/2011
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Plead With HR For Fast IT Hiring

Think tight government regulations or disgruntled docs are standing in the way of meeting your health IT goals? Nope, it could be Steve over in human resources.

Few would argue that your most valuable resources are the human kind. That fact--combined with a worsening healthcare IT talent shortage (especially those with some knowledge of clinical medicine)--means you'll be spending more time with human resources than ever before. You'll be huddling with "Steve" in HR to discuss or negotiate raises or paid time off for your staff, filling existing positions, and creating and hiring new ones. Your relationship with Steve is going to be very important.

In my experience, Steve can be a hindrance, rather than a help, in these processes.

First off, Steve has a "hurry up and wait" method to her madness. For an existing position that needs to be filled, you'll be instructed to either send over the job description or review the one she's got on file. Because you need the position filled yesterday, this you'll diligently do. Unfortunately, Steve's proactive nature abruptly changes once the ball has been knocked back into her court. Silence falls over the land.

Over the next few weeks, as you politely check in with Steve to "just see how things are going," you'll come to realize things are going nowhere. Steve hasn't even posted the position yet. When she finally does, it will not be on the sites you recommended, but on Monster, where the density of relevant candidates amounts to a few parts per million. You'll soon tire of being forwarded resumes that begin, "Dear Sir/Madam," despite the fact your name is on the job posting.

"Steve, please put it on these sites I told you about--they are very health IT-centric," you plead.

"Oh, I checked those out, but posting on them is four times what it costs to post on Monster. Let's give this a try first, then we can check out your sites. You know, we've all got to tighten our belts!"

Steve, you see, doesn't know healthcare--she knows human resources administration in its most generic sense. This means the process will grow ever more maddening as Steve ignores your criteria, applies her own, and subsequently showers you with an intermittent stream of unqualified applicants.

"Steve, you're killing me," you think as she reassures you that Jimmy, whose salient qualification was he "liked computers," would have been a great fit.

What Steve doesn't understand is that time matters--time really is money. The weeks that Steve sat on your posting, the months she let it languish on a fishing line cast in an irrelevant talent pool, matter. That time not only represents a period you had to struggle without the much-needed human resource, but also time other employers, fishing in the right pool, snagged a job seeker who could have been yours.

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act took the healthcare IT industry from a nice Sunday drive to warp 9. Over the past two years, you have made the adjustment, albeit painfully. But to find continued success along the Meaningful Use road, HR must also shed its pace of the past and get into the game. Just as you would with a doctor reluctant to embrace computerized physician order entry (CPOE) or electronic documentation, you must convince, cajole, persuade, and coerce Steve to become the HR partner you need. If intransigent, you must go above or beyond her. You must work to place a person in that critical position who can get things done in a timely manner.

When we conceive the hospital IT shop of the future, we picture CIOs and their teams huddling with clinicians and other support staff to encourage use of the systems healthcare now demands, but in that vision we must also see an energetic, knowledgeable, and attentive Steve. For, without her on board, the machinery of your IT shop will grind to a painful, frustrating halt.

Anthony Guerra is the founder and editor of healthsystemCIO.com, a site dedicated to serving the strategic information needs of healthcare CIOs. He can be reached at aguerra@healthsystemCIO.com.

Join InformationWeek Healthcare for a virtual event on choosing, deploying, and using electronic health record systems. It happens July 27. Find out more and register.

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