Health IT Tops Jobs List For College Grads - InformationWeek

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Healthcare // Electronic Health Records
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Health IT Tops Jobs List For College Grads

Health IT jobs are expected to grow by 20%, or about 35,100 new jobs, for the decade 2008-2018, according to a UC San Diego study.

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A career in health information technology (IT) is the hottest vocation for college graduates in this challenging economy, according to a study from the University of California San Diego Extension.

The study, released last week, shows that health IT ranks first among the top ten careers listed and is described as a profession in which technicians update and organize medical information electronically. The report credits the federal government's health IT initiatives that have spurred the adoption of advanced technology systems that manage and use health information. As healthcare delivery organizations embark on transferring patient records from paper-based systems to digitized medical records, the shift has fueled a demand for health information technicians who can oversee the growth of a comprehensive database of medical records during the next decade.

Among the technology trends we will see are the expansion of electronic health records (EHR) to include patient data from various sources such as integrating text, voice, images, and handwritten notes. To support this shift, the healthcare industry will need technicians for emerging jobs such as healthcare integration engineer, healthcare systems analyst, clinical IT consultant, and technology support specialist, the report said.

"Several factors--a growing industry with vast employment needs, a societal concern with federal backing for broad reform, and a solution incorporating advanced knowledge and skills among workers--combine to form a strong base for workforce development and employment opportunity for the coming decade," Mark Cafferty, San Diego Workforce Partnership president and CEO, said in a statement.

He also said skilled knowledge workers will not only meet the immediate needs in healthcare, but also will serve as a catalyst for new and emerging types of jobs in the coming years as the impact of healthcare IT takes hold.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that medical records and health information technicians held about 172,500 jobs in 2008 (about 39% of jobs were in hospitals). Jobs are expected to grow by 20%, or about 35,100 new jobs, for the decade 2008-2018.

Health information technicians are needed at hospitals, physician offices, nursing care facilities, outpatient care centers, and home healthcare services. Technicians also may be employed outside of healthcare facilities, including federal government agencies.

Other careers that placed in the top ten are:

-- Mobile media. Cell phones and other mobile devices are now multifunction devices that enable users to surf the Web, listen to music, download podcasts, use maps, access global positioning satellites, shoot and send photos and videos, and send text messages. With the countless new software applications, the number of ways to use smart phones is exploding.

-- Data mining. Data mining is the technique of extracting specific types of information or patterns from large databases, such as data warehouses. Advanced statistical methods sift through large volumes of data, providing answers to questions that were once too time-consuming.

-- Embedded engineering. Devices from phones, appliances, and televisions, to automobiles and iPods all use processors to run. These complex digital processors, or computers, are embedded systems, often built around a microprocessor core, that are designed by software engineers.

-- Feature writing for the Web. Technology has transformed journalism and marketing, creating new ways for how news and information are conveyed. The new medium allows for more interactivity, as readers respond via comments or blogs.

In the new, all-digital InformationWeek Healthcare: iPads are leading a new wave of devices into the exam room. Are security, tech support, and infection control up to the task? Download it now. (Free registration required.)

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