Don’t forget about HIE staffing, say HIMSS/AHIMA researchers

February 12, 2013 in Medical Technology

When it comes to health information exchanges (HIEs), significant focus is placed on governance, but little is placed on staffing needs. This is a major oversight, according to a new study from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

For the study, released Feb. 11, HIMSS and AHIMA formed a collaborative workgroup to analyze job opportunities and skill sets required in the health information exchange organization (HIO) setting. The workgroup directly surveyed HIOs to explore various staffing models, to examine current staffing environments and to identify any emerging trends, according to workgroup researchers.


Representatives from 35 HIOs completed the survey in 2012. The responding HIOs represented diverse demographics, according to the workgroup. The survey results do not, however, necessarily represent all types of HIOs operating in the U.S., they note.  


[See also: Mostashari spotlights ROI in HIE.]


Survey participants included organizations that have been operational since as early as 1994, with slightly more than half self-identified as state-designated entities. The significant majority of participants used not-for-profit governance structures and planned to use subscription and membership fees as part of their sustainability strategy. 


Overall, the organizations surveyed were planning very little hiring at the time of the survey, the study found. Technology and operations positions ranked highest for those who had hiring plans. Of the 35 survey participants, 45 percent were seeking skills in technology, 20 percent were seeking positions in operations and 14 percent were seeking positions in coordination activities, while 21 percent indicated “other.”  


HIOs were seeking data integration and help desk support positions the most often. The other positions most sought at the time of the survey, in descending order, included:


  • Data integrity, connectivity, software support, business intelligence/reporting
  • Data quality/compliance, technical project management
  • Security, specification/design/coding/testing
  • Payment processing, other

“Deployment and effective use of information technology is complex, challenging work requiring skilled staff,” said Carla Smith, executive vice president, HIMSS in a press release. “This study provides unique insight into the world of HIE organizations, focused on skill sets and experiences required for today’s and future expectations. This first study also sets a benchmark for additional workforce studies in this critical area.” 


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