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Tim Willcutts
Independent Writer

Author's Focus:
As a freelance writer, I cover stories and manage content for a variety of businesses, including Ready Consultant and The Ghetto Gourmet. I am particularly interested in medical privacy and the meaningful use of electronic health records.

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All Articles Listing
Expect States to Take Control of Health Reform
By:SWilliams - - 07/09/2010

46 states face budget shortfalls. Can they afford health reform? Read More..

Health Reform, Is Your Company's Plan Grandfathered? Be careful.
By:ReadyConsultant - - 07/07/2010

Employers who offer health coverage have many new requirements to understand related to the recently passed Affordable Care Act. Most of the major changes do not become effective until January 1, 2014 particularly given the "grandfathered" status. However, maintaining this status may be more diffic... Read More..

What's Next for ONC's Agenda with EHR's, Certification and more?
By:DWillcutts - - 01/21/2010

Information Week's recent interview with ONC's Dr. David Blumenthal provided some interesting insights into what is next and who is out there to help providers realize these goals. Where are the meaningful use guidelines? What about the certification process and who will be certifying? And is there... Read More..

NHIN Re-thought? ONC's Dr. David Blumenthal is re-envisioning
By:DWillcutts - - 01/21/2010

The six year effort by the government to create a National Health Information Network through efforts such as RHIOs is getting a fresh look. Is there practicality coming out of Washington? Or is this another twist in the road to a far off dream? At first glance, having a focus on smaller providers'... Read More..

Page:   of 16 

2010 Promises High Demand for Healthcare IT Professionals

TWillcutts - - 01/19/2010

As 2010 begins, the rush to meet new standards for electronic health record (EHR) technology has healthcare CIOs hiring more IT staff and the federal government offering various forms of financial incentives to spur readiness.  16% of healthcare CIOs plan to increase hiring in the first quarter of 2010, according to a report in Information Week.  A recent Robert Half Technology phone survey reveals that healthcare CIOs were almost four times more likely to propose adding new IT staff than the total sample of CIOs surveyed across all industries.  Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services is offering $235 million in stimulus funding to 15 "Beacon Communities" that can demonstrate the benefits of health information technology, and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is offering $80 million in funding to create or expand health information technology training programs at community colleges.  2010 marks the home stretch of an effort to implement new EHR and demonstrate "meaningful use" of EHR in time to earn federal stimulus rewards beginning in 2011.  If January is any indication, it is likely to be a year of great productivity and opportunity in the healthcare IT field.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) promises more than $20 billion to providers who become "meaningful users" of EHR technology between 2011 and 2015, but providers may have to expand their staff and boost technical expertise in order to meet these goals.  The U.S. government estimates a shortfall of 51,000 qualified healthcare IT professionals over the next five years.  As a consequence, staffing companies such as Manpower and Robert Half Technology have reported significant spikes in healthcare IT hiring.  According to a Robert Half Technology phone survey, the top technical skill sets CIOs are seeking include network administration (75%); desktop support (75%); Windows administration (69%); database management (64%); wireless network management (56%); telecommunications support (52%); virtualization (41%); business intelligence reporting services (39%); Web development/Web site design (38%); and enterprise resource planning implementation (31%).

The federal government has responded to the shortages by allocating funds to help stimulate education and promote early implementation of EHR.  This March, The Department of Health and Human Services will award $220 million in grants to 15 qualified non-profit organizations or government entities representing geographic healthcare communities.  According to a recent article in Health Data Management, "the selected communities will be expected to have rates of EHR adoption that are significantly higher than published national estimates."  An additional $15 million will be provided for technical assistance.  David Blumenthal, M.D., national coordinator for health information technology, writes, "These communities are best positioned to lead the way in accomplishing meaningful use of EHRs and to provide valuable lessons to other localities on the preferred approaches to elevating the performance of local health systems using health IT."  Applications for funding are due on February 1, 2010.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is also accepting applications for grants to create training programs for health information technology professionals at community colleges.  According to Health Data Management, "the colleges would establish intensive, non-degree training programs that can be completed in six months or less."  $70 million in grants will be made available for the creation of these programs.  Applications are due January 22, 2010.  Another $10 million will be offered to support health IT curriculum development.  Applications for these grants were due on January 14, 2010.

It is clear that ARRA has created a high demand for IT professionals in the healthcare field.  Despite significant challenges in other sectors of the economy, 2010 should be a year of great promise for those who can demonstrate knowledge and command of new EHR technology and protocols.





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