6 most wanted Health Informatics jobs

I think many people would have heard something like “Health informatics jobs are growing rapidly”. With some evidence from Burning Glass Report 2014, which Manjula have written about before, HIMSS Workforce Survey 2014. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that health information technicians are projected to grow 15 percent from 2014 to 2024.

The below chart is average posting duration for Health Informatics positions from the Burning Glass Report. This chart means that for some Health Informatics positions, it’s harder to find an employee than an average of other jobs.

Image from Burning Glass Report 2014

HIMSS Workforce Survey also contain some interesting insight

  • Over 84% of respondents reported their organization hired at least one staff member in the past year, but only 8% laid off any staff.
  • 56% of healthcare provider organizations hired 1-10 IT full-time equivalents (FTEs), mostly in the clinical application support or help desk positions.
  • 47% of vendor organizations often hired over 20 employees, mostly in sales or marketing.
  • 82% of all respondents plan to hire additional staff in the next year, which 43% of vendor organizations plan to hire over 20 employees.
2014 HIMSS Workforce Survey
from 2014 HIMSS Workforce Survey
from 2014 HIMSS Workforce Survey

Why Health Informatics suddenly become a needed position?

From the book “Practical Guide to Clinical Computing Systems: Design, Operations, and Infrastructure”,  Thomas Payne, the author, gives us 4 reasons.

  1. Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act – more info on Wikipedia) is the US government spending $25.9 billion to promote and expand the adoption of health information technology (HIT).
  2. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) or “Obamacare”  is shifting the quality of care from “paying for services” to “paying for outcomes”. This movement requires managing patient across a continuum of care. Consequently, it stimulates the requirement for advanced HIT.
  3. Technological advancement; Because of a lot of new emerging technologies, from the Internet to Mobile device, many industries was disrupted by these technologies. Therefore, people started to think of disrupting healthcare.
  4. Growing number of healthcare organization that has utilized HIT and EHRs for a decade or more. They started to think about how to use the big data they collect for such a long time in an efficient way.

Health Informatics job positions

Jobs in Health Informatics have a unique characteristic. Because the field is relatively new, it’s not frequent to see a job ads that directly announced: “We want a Health Informatician”. The job of Health Informatician mostly come in another name such as project manager, health information director, or even software developer.

What are some of the most wanted health informatics jobs position? There are many people answer this question. Most of them are just an opinion. To answer this question, one evidence I found would be the HITECH Workforce Development Programs from Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) of the US in 2010-2012. In short, the ONC spends $118M to help universities and colleges train these roles. From the full list of 12 roles, 6 roles are for training in the short course, and other 6 roles are for training in the universities.

So, I will focus only the roles that expected to be trained in the university. The definition of each roles was summarized from Dr.William Hersh’s blog, which he copied from the original document (I can’t find the original document). And here is the list:

1. Clinician/public health leader

Short description: a leader of health information in the organization, in health care providers or public health agencies.

Example titles: Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO), Chief Nursing Informatics Officer (CNIO), Chief Information, Chief Informatics Officer

2. Health information management and exchange specialist

Short description: someone who manages the health information in the organization and between organizations. He/she is a technician guy (manage information), not a management guy (not manage people).

Example titles: Health Information Specialist, Informatics Specialist, Data Scientist

3. Health information privacy and security specialist

Short description: someone who manage privacy and security of health information.

Example titles: Information Privacy Officers, Information Security Officers

4. Research and development scientist

Short description: someone who works as a researcher in health IT field to develop new models and solutions.

Example titles: Researcher, Community College Teacher

5. Programmers and software engineer

Short description: same as programmers or software engineers in other fields, except he/she has to have knowledge in health domain in some extent.

Example titles: Software Developer, Software Engineer, System Analyst, Software Tester, etc.

6. Health IT sub-specialist

Short description: someone who has an advanced knowledge in a specific portion of the health IT field. He/she can do research and development works, but more advanced than a scientist (No.4)

Example titles: Researcher, University Professor

Outcome of HITECH Workforce Development Programs

From this effort of the ONC, the University-Based Training Program trained 1,704 graduate students in the US. I think this is still not enough for more than 5,000 hospitals in the US. And Health Informaticians still in demand. I think this is the same for other countries, although I don’t have an evidence right now.

Image from Health IT Dashboard

So if you like techology and are interested to be a part of healthcare IT revolution, feel free to join the Health Informatics education. Here in Karolinska Institutet, we also offer a Health Informatics program. Feel free to comment or contact me if you need more information.

Thank you for reading 🙂


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