Survey Finds HIEs Struggle To Find, Hire Qualified Employees

November 6, 2014 in News

Health information exchange organizations face challenges recruiting qualified health IT staff, in part because of a lack of competitive pay, according to a new survey, Modern Healthcare reports (Conn, Modern HealthCare, 11/4).

Survey Details

The survey, conducted by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society and the American Health Information Management Association, polled 16 HIE organizations about IT staffing (Dvorak, FierceHealthIT, 11/4). The survey was conducted online in May, and staff positions were divided into three categories:

  • Connectivity;
  • Data integrity; and
  • Data integration.

Survey Findings

The organizations’ staff sizes ranged between 1.5 to 47 full-time-equivalent employees (Modern Healthcare, 11/4).

According to the survey, all three categories of health IT workers in 2014 had higher salaries, compared with 2012 (FierceHealthIT, 11/4).

Specifically, the survey found that connectivity workers — including application architects, database administrators and HIE integration managers — had the largest salary range, varying from less than $75,000 to $119,999.

Meanwhile, the survey found:

  • The most commonly cited salary for data integrity workers — including data analysts, health care database administrators and HIE implementation managers — was below $75,000; and
  • The most commonly cited salary for data integration worker — which typically referred to interface engineers — ranged between $75,000 to $89,999 (HIMSS/AHIMA survey, October 2014).

HIE organization respondents also reported varying education levels among the three health IT staffing categories, with:

  • 78% of connectivity workers having a bachelor’s degree and 22% having a master’s degree;
  • Data integrity workers ranging from high school degree to master’s degree with two to five years of general IT experience; and
  • Data integration workers having a bachelor’s degree and a required 10 years of IT experience, including five years in health IT (Modern Healthcare, 11/4).

According to the survey, HIE employees are often recruited through referrals, industry conferences and events (FierceHealthIT, 11/4).

Hiring Challenges

However, HIEs reported several challenges to hiring health IT staff, such as:

  • Noncompetitive salary and benefits compared with other industries; and
  • Finding individuals with the correct experience and health IT knowledge.

Overall, respondents noted that they experienced “extended periods of time needed to find qualified candidates that both have a cultural and technical fit to the organization” (Modern Healthcare, 11/4).

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