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Demand For Health IT Talent Rising

Robert Half Technology and Manpower among staffing firms reporting that projected demand by clients for health IT skills will rise early next year.

Healthcare CIOs are among IT leaders with the most ambitious hiring plans for early next year, says a new report from IT staffing and outsourcing firm Robert Half Technology.

The push by healthcare providers nationwide to implement new electronic health records and other clinical systems in time to reap federal stimulus rewards that start in 2011 has 16% of healthcare CIOs planning to increase hiring in the first quarter of 2010. Only 3% expect staff reductions. So, a net of 13% of healthcare CIOs are planning to expand their staffs in the first quarter.

Also, 55% of healthcare CIOs said they expect their organizations to invest in IT projects during the first quarter. Nearly one quarter -- 22% -- of healthcare CIOs attribute their hiring plans to the development and rollout of enterprise systems.

The Robert Half Technology phone survey of 1,400 CIOs included 235 IT leaders in healthcare services. Healthcare CIOs were about four times more likely to say they'll add IT staff than the national sample of CIOs surveyed across all industries. Only a net 3% of CIOs nationwide expected to add IT staff. That reflects 7% of CIOs planning to expand their IT workforce and 4% expecting cutbacks.

Only CIOs in the wholesale and retail industries expect more aggressive hiring in the first quarter than healthcare CIOs. A net of 16% wholesale CIOs expect to increase their staffs, while a net 8% of retail CIOs predicted hiring new IT talent.

Also, over the last quarter the percentage of healthcare CIOs planning to expand their IT teams jumped nearly three-fold. A Robert Half Technology survey of 244 healthcare CIOs in September found that only 5% expected to increase hiring for the fourth quarter of 2009.

Robert Half Technology isn't the only staffing company that's reporting a spike in healthcare IT hiring. Over the last 11 weeks, Manpower has also seen an uptick in talent demands from healthcare clients, including healthcare providers, health systems development and services firms, and payers, said Jill Harlamert, VP of project solutions for Manpower professional services.

Looking ahead to the first quarter of 2010, Manpower healthcare industry clients expect a net hiring increase of 4% over the first quarter of 2009. First quarter hiring projections for 2010 are also a 2% increase over the fourth quarter, said Harlamert.

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