Digital transformation is relentlessly altering the landscape in healthcare, an industry that's seen more than its share of change in other areas over the past few years.
And all the re-imagining, refocusing and reconfiguration is great news for professionals interested in long-term careers with healthcare information technology.
Challenges Facing Health IT Leaders
A survey by the Advisory Board provided the top IT and technology related issues this year. Challenges include:
- Optimization of electronic health records (EHR)
- Interoperability, data exchange, and data accessibility
- Managing population health, patient experiences, and standardization in care
- Consumerism (price estimations, guarantees, outcomes, and feedback)
- Advanced analytics, application-based technology, and business intelligence
- Cyber security, disaster recovery and business continuity
- Risk management and process improvement
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) released their 27th Annual Leadership Survey in March of 2016. Of those surveyed 95% view health IT as "strategically critical tool" for the success of healthcare organizations. Specifically, health IT leaders are focused patient care;
- clinical integration (74%)
- primary care efficiency (72%)
- care coordination (67%)
New Healthcare IT Leadership
With organizations placing such emphasis on improving patient experiences, safety, and protecting against cyber security risks, executive IT leadership is in high demand to lead disruptive change. Read on to discover exciting career opportunities for health IT professionals and how aspiring IT executives can advance their career.
According to a health information technology report, by CoreMedical Group healthcare staffing,
“The more interconnected healthcare becomes, the more complex EHR systems will need to be, and while today’s healthcare workers are adapting to the new world of technology, there is a strong need for real Information Technology expertise.”
To deliver improved patient outcomes real-time data and connectivity between patients and providers is essential for managing preventive care programs, reducing the use-and-costs of laboratory testing, and lowering pharmaceutical costs.
Clinical Application Analyst & Informaticist
Clinical applications analyst– those responsible for connecting the workflows between patients, doctors and other support personnel – and clinical informaticist – data analysts who can turn bits of information into meaningful, real-life actions – are among the roles spotlighted in the burgeoning market, according to CIO magazine.
Also, the chief information officers (CIO), chief marketing officers (CMO), chief digital officers (CDO) and even customer experience officers (CXO) in the healthcare field roles, skills, and traits are changing, notes the CIO magazine report.
Scott Kitlinski, CIO for cloud consultancy Astadia says,
“[Information Technologists] should think of themselves as chief relationship officers . . . you have to build relationships and rapport with the business people . . . [that] you're trying to understand what their needs are and find the best answer.”
Clinical IT Executives
HIMSS notes in their 27th Annual Leadership Survey that 71% of respondents indicated that their health system employees a clinical IT leader such as a Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO) and Chief Nursing Informatics Officer (CNIO)
Expanding the c-suite to include clinical IT leadership has had a net positive impact for organizations especially in the areas of improving care coordination, managing post-acute care, and using evidence-based medicine.
Although benefits of having more IT executives in the mix are known, adoption across the industry is varied. Respondents included in the HIMSS survey with a CMIO or a CNIO on their staff reported that 59% of CMIOs and 71% of CNIOs are included on the executive team.
Chief Information Security Officer:
With over 16 million medical records exposed due to healthcare data breaches in 2016 and the industry pushing to make data more accessible means health systems need cyber security experts that can develop resilient IT infrastructure and applications to connect patients, families, and clinicians through the care continuum.
Business Intelligence Officer:
With the digital universe projected to reach an astounding 44 trillion gigabytes by 2020 and executives pushing health IT to share and leverage data to improve population health, hospitals are looking to hire IT personnel to manage and analyze data at scale. Expanding evidence-based medicine and clinical trials of new therapies are two driving forces behind this initiative.
Vice President of Revenue Cycle
When health organizations expand and cover large geographic areas across state lines, there is an increasing need to manage both quality and compliance throughout the reimbursement process. Hospital administrators with an understanding of medical payments, an advanced degree in healthcare, and a track record of excellence are well positioned to lead this growing field.
Health IT Career Advancement
There’s no “best background” for IT positions as Mike Doyle, Director of the National Cancer Institute’s Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology, states in a conversation with Health Catalyst, “as I look around at my colleagues, I see people from a variety of backgrounds. One of my best data architects used to be a finance director and another came from a physics lab.”
For many executive health IT positions candidates with advanced degrees in health, industry certifications such as CISSP (cyber security), ITIL or ITSM (IT service management), and multi-site healthcare experience are desired for these positions.
For many working professionals an online degree program or self-directed learning is the best course of action to accelerate your health IT career.
When researching online degree programs to advance your healthcare career, it is important to review the curriculum. IT executives must have superior leadership and management skills in addition to technical expertise to strategically lead health providers through an era of disruptive change.
With courses including “Health Information Systems,” “Information Technology Systems in Healthcare” and “Leading People and Healthcare Organizations,” the USC Executive Master of Health Administration online degree program is perfect for helping mid-career IT professionals develop into healthcare IT leaders of tomorrow.