These healthcare IT jobs are just what the doctor ordered

Part three in our series on the Affordable Care Act and IT hiring

While hiring in many areas of IT has faced slowdowns, road bumps and uncertainty, hiring in healthcare IT has been steady over the past few years. Much of this is due in part to the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law four years ago next week.

One major effect of the ACA has been increased hiring of short-term and contract employees in healthcare--according to Sarah Sample-Reif--to help with or help finish projects that hospitals and other healthcare organizations started to comply with various parts of the law. Sample-Reif is the vice president of health IT at Modis, an IT recruiting and staffing organization. She has worked in healthcare IT for more than 20 years on both the payer and provider sides, and sits on the National HIMSS taskforce.

"2008 was a very slow year for consulting work and short term [employment]. In about 2010, right after the Affordable Care Act became [law], it did ramp up significantly and I think it's continuing to stay in flux with a pretty high trending level," she notes.

"I feel that we're in a very blended place right now where consultants are stretched thin, staff is stretched thin and budgets are stretched thin but in the old term, the show must go on, I think things are continuing to pace at that and trending that way, so hiring hasn't really slowed down," Sample-Reif adds.

While this is good news for IT professionals looking for short-term and contract work, it's created some hiccups for those looking for longer-terms positions in the field.

For those looking to stay relevant in healthcare IT, Sample-Reif points to a few of the most in-demand jobs in the industry at the moment, some of which are a direct result of the law.

They include:

  1. Implementation specialists
  2. Clinical analysts
  3. ICD (or International Classification of Diseasesspecialists
  4. Billers
  5. Coders
  6. Business Intelligence positions
  7. Security positions

"I think the skill sets that we're going to see this year are going to be very high demand for business intelligence, not necessarily big data, but business intelligence, security and informatics," Sample-Reif says.

"Large health systems are consolidating with smaller providers and ambulatory care providers and during that transition there's a gap. Not only that, insurance companies are consolidating with healthcare systems and healthcare providers, so the market is just so ever changing that its pretty open and ripe for that information to have a gap or a hole in it," she adds.

Other healthcare IT positions that have grown in demand since the ACA was signed into law on March 23, 2010 include the chief nursing information officer and the chief medical informatics officer, also known as the CNIO and CMIO respectively.

"I think those positions have really been embraced and a result of the act," Sample-Reif says. "They existed in [the late 90s] and they really became in-demand in 2012."

Regarding her predictions for the rest of 2014, Sample-Reif says she expects healthcare organizations to keep prioritizing legislative deadlines and mandates to avoid penalization and to hopefully step up security and security awareness. She also expects to see more traditional healthcare employees transitioning into healthcare IT roles.

"A Med tech, a nurse, even physicians are working into informatics positions instead of straight clinical care at this point and changing their [paths] into technology," Sample-Reif notes.

Related Articles:
How the Affordable Care Act affects IT hiring: Part 2
How the Affordable Care Act affects IT hiring
Healthcare industry at top of IT job market in 2014