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Want Career Advancement? Try Health IT

The demand for health IT skills and experience is fueling career advancement and job opportunities at all levels, according to recruiters and hiring managers.

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"That's a very unusual move," Tyler said about the CEO job at BIDMC being filled by an M.D. with a relatively deep background in IT related positions. But it also signifies the growing reliance on and importance of IT in healthcare, said Tyler.

John Challenger, CEO of executive recruitment firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, also thinks healthcare providers such as medical centers could increasingly look to bolster the other top executive positions in their organizations with people who have had "stints" in IT-centric jobs.

"A decade or so ago in healthcare, that wouldn't have happened. But healthcare is undergoing tremendous transformation, and that's happening with the help of technology," Challenger said in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare.

In the meantime, BIDMC's current CIO, John Halamka--who was named one of the top 25 most influential health IT leaders by InformationWeek Healthcare earlier this year--is looking forward to working with the organization's new IT-savvy CEO.

"A CEO who is familiar with IT understands the relationship between project scope, timing, and resources," said Halamka in an email interview with InformationWeek Healthcare. "Such knowledge makes IT project planning and coordination more robust," said Halamka, who knows Tabb from their service together on Google Health's advisory board.

While BIDMC awaits the arrival of its new CEO, it's also on the lookout for new talent for its own IT organization, said Halamka.

"We're hiring in several areas, including e-health record project analysts to support practices through the 3 stages of meaningful use, clinical system developers to add increasing functionality and innovation, and security professionals to ensure privacy is protected," he said.

Meanwhile, health IT services firms are also competing in the market for many of the same skills that healthcare providers are looking to add to their own IT teams.

Arcadia Solutions, which is based in Burlington, Mass., just outside Boston's hot health IT market of prestigious Harvard-affiliated healthcare providers, is taking a tact that differs slightly from others when it comes to recruitment, said Seth Henry, Arcadia founder and president.

Rather than focusing on hiring experienced health IT professionals, Arcadia often tries recruiting recent college grads from universities such as Cornell, Dartmouth, and Brown, and then providing them with training.

Rather than competing over the same pool of talent, "we need to scale with the job market," he said. So, Arcadia goes after biomedical, medical engineering, biology, and other related grads, he said. That includes computer science, "but that's a small pond, too" he said.

Recruiter Challenger said the spending taking place at healthcare organizations for technology initiatives is creating opportunities for all sorts of new IT jobs. "HR people say they're looking for programmers, and all sorts of talent and skills to get these e-medical record and other important systems in place," he said. "Technology in healthcare is going like gangbusters."

Find out how health IT leaders are dealing with the industry's pain points, from allowing unfettered patient data access to sharing electronic records. Also in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek Healthcare: There needs to be better e-communication between technologists and clinicians. Download the issue now. (Free registration required.)

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