Job postings for healthcare informatics professionals are increasing as the organization and implementation of modern computer, communication and information systems become more commonplace in the healthcare industry.
The federal government has targeted healthcare informatics in particular as a key part of the reorganization of healthcare delivery in the United States. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health act of 2009 aims to increase the use of electronic health records by establishing incentives, deadlines and penalties for the healthcare industry to implement electronic health records.
An increase in the use of technology boosts the need for professionals able to manage informatics systems within a healthcare setting. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the job growth for health information technicians – the only health informatics job the agency tracks — is expected to grow 22% by 2022.
According to a report by labor market analytics firm Burning Glass released in 2012 that tracked job postings through the recession, health informatics job postings increased by 36% between 2007 and 2011. That growth rate is six times more than overall job listings and four times more than the healthcare industry.
Though several years old, the report showed the increase in health informatics jobs compared to the rest of the healthcare field and included a wider range of professions than the BLS tracks.
Another Burning Glass report released December 2014 said health informatics job openings took longer to fill than other healthcare positions.
As healthcare changes, so does the marketplace for jobs in the industry. When it comes to healthcare informatics, job security and growth potential are there for individuals who can help healthcare providers increase efficiency and lower costs.
Trouble Finding Workers
At present, employers are having a difficult time filling health informatics positions with qualified people. On average, informatics job postings stay open twice as long as the record keeping jobs they are replacing.
A PricewaterhouseCoopers report on healthcare IT staffing in 2013 showed 67% of healthcare CEOs experienced shortages of IT staff and 75% expected to hire new IT workers.
One reason is the jobs are increasingly complicated, combining elements of technology with medical knowledge.
A good example is a position called clinical analyst. This person assists with IT systems, translates data and manages patient records. The necessary combination of IT and medical knowledge is not an easy skillset to come by in the current labor force.
Also, employers have faced retention and recruitment difficulties.
A 2013 survey by Towers Watson indicated that qualified healthcare IT professionals valued job security, good base pay, benefits, work location and opportunities for advancement. But healthcare employers focused on challenging work as the important enticement to attract employees.
More than 225,000 job openings in health informatics are expected by 2025. About half of these will be to replace the current healthcare workforce which is heavily made up of Baby Boomers nearing retirement.
New positions are expected to require a higher level of education due to the increased technical nature of the work. The BLS suggests that some of the most likely states where health informatics professionals may find employment include Texas, California, Washington and Florida.
Why Informatics is Important
Federal regulations concerning electronic health and medical records have been created to push the industry away from paper files and toward technology that can provide a global, holistic approach to healthcare. Shared information systems allow better collaboration between healthcare providers, eliminate geographic divides and create a better environment for preventative care.
Additionally, informatics increases efficiency and helps reduce costs that have reached such levels that even insured Americans put off seeing a doctor due to heavy out-of-pocket expenses. New technological solutions in the form of information technology reduce expenses and free personnel from the burden of paperwork to focus more on providing quality patient care.