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50,000 Health IT Jobs: HIMSS, HR Gurus Want You

Healthcare sees need for 50,000 more IT workers to support implementation of electronic health records and health information exchange. HIMSS and ASHHRA partner to get the word out.
Slideshow: Siemens Healthcare DataCenter Virtual Tour
Slideshow: Siemens Healthcare DataCenter Virtual Tour
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The largest health IT membership organization is joining with a healthcare human resources group to help promote health IT workforce development and find qualified candidates in a field with a serious labor shortage.

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), and the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (ASHHRA) have agreed to collaborate on efforts to attract job seekers to health IT. They will share links, white papers, educational programs, and other resources on each other's website, and generally promote health IT as a career path.

"Both organizations hit it at a different angle," Helen Figge, senior director for career services at HIMSS, told InformationWeek Healthcare.

[Which healthcare organizations came out ahead in the IW500 competition? See 10 Healthcare IT Innovators: InformationWeek 500.]

"We are zooming in on a very succinct population," namely people with technical skills who might not have considered health IT, Figge said. "We want to open their minds, open their eyes, and help them think outside the box."

Many people with IT expertise have lost jobs in other industries in the last couple of years. But healthcare is hiring to fill an expected shortage of 50,000 workers to support implementation of electronic health records and health information exchange. HIMSS and ASHHRA want to let technology professionals know and they want to have access to each other's knowledge.

As HR professionals, ASHHRA members screen job applicants at healthcare companies, but aren't always aware of exactly what IT and health information management departments are looking for. HIMSS expects to help hiring managers differentiate between the many types of health IT jobs that are or soon will be available.

"This will help HR professionals better understand what's needed in the [health IT] landscape," Figge explained. "With this collaboration, we're going to get more people into IT roles than we would otherwise," she added. "In the past, these jobs were siloed."

HIMSS and ASHHRA already are planning a "virtual career fair" and some joint educational programs, according to Figge. "Education is key because processes keep changing," Figge said.

The federal government is devoting $116 million to health IT workforce training in the form of grants to community colleges and graduate medical informatics programs, as well as curriculum development, but that alone won't be enough to make up the entire labor shortage.

HIMSS has started a mentoring/coaching program for some of the organization's 47,000 members to share pearls of wisdom with new entrants to the field. The HIMSS Emerging Professionals Community also hosts monthly webinars. ASHHRA will tap into those resources, among others, Figge said.