HIMSS Workforce Survey: Vendors, Consulting Firms Outpace Hospitals for Health IT Job Prospects

The 2018 HIMSS Leadership and Workforce Survey, released during the annual HIMSS Conference in Las Vegas, revealed that vendors and consultants are expected to hire health IT professionals at a faster pace than hospitals in the coming year.

The survey of 369 health information and technology leaders (224 from healthcare providers and 145 from health IT vendors and consultancies) also revealed that although priorities for vendors/consultants and hospitals remain largely aligned, there has been more divergence in the past year.

The annual gathering of more than 40,000 health information and technology professionals and the vendors that help innovate the industry provided a glimpse into the state of health informatics, artificial intelligence, cloud computing and healthcare data analytics.

The workforce survey is an annual highlight of the conference. It provides industry insiders key data about technology priorities, hiring plans in hospitals and other healthcare facilities and workforce projections across the industry.

This year’s survey showed that hospitals “may be challenged to complete information and technology projects as originally planned” because job opportunities are greater with vendors and consultancies than they are with hospitals.

This is a departure from 2017. Last year, 32% of responding vendors reported that they were fully staffed in healthcare and information positions, and 61% said they still had open positions to fill.

In 2017, 29% of hospital leaders reported that they were fully staffed and, like vendors, 61% said they had open positions to fill.

This year, while 24% of vendors said they are fully staffed and 69% said they have open positions, 56% of hospital leaders surveyed said they were fully staffed and 34% said they had open positions to fill.

Interestingly, 67% of vendors reported that they had increased their healthcare and information workforces in the past year, while only 37% of hospital respondents reported an increase in the size of their health IT workforces.

Finally, 75% of vendors said they expect to increase their health IT workforce size in 2018, while only 40% of hospital leaders expected to increase theirs.

The good news for health IT professionals was that neither vendors (3%) nor hospitals (16%) expected to decrease their health and information workforces significantly in 2018.

More Workforce Survey Insights

In addition to the projected surge in hiring by vendors and consultancies, the HIMSS 2018 workforce survey discovered that both vendors and hospitals appear still to have essentially the same priorities when it comes to implementing a health IT workforce. According to the survey authors, this is an indication that “efforts to address information and technology information and technology issues should enjoy synergies from a broad spectrum of industry stakeholders.”

In other words, any overarching challenges that the healthcare industry continues to face with the implementation of digital health data are being met concurrently by vendor and healthcare worker efforts.

On the other hand, the survey did reveal one area of divergence when it comes to health IT priorities of vendors and hospitals. Perhaps not surprisingly, hospital leaders listed patient safety as the No. 1 priority, while vendors and consultants listed patient safety as only the seventh-most pressing priority.

Also, not surprisingly, vendors and consultants listed data analytics/clinical and business intelligence as the top priority for 2018. Both hospital leaders and vendors placed privacy, security and cybersecurity in the top four of 2018 priorities.

The workforce survey was not the only interesting document published in conjunction with HIMSS 2018.

Other HIMSS 2018 Takeaways

In addition to the workforce survey, the 2018 HIMSS annual cybersecurity survey provided insight gathered from 239 healthcare leaders.

The cybersecurity survey revealed that 76% of healthcare organizations had to deal with a security incident in 2017 or early 2018. Of those, 96% were caused by identifiable threats, such as negligent insiders and hackers. Also, 61% of the attacks originated with email.

The survey revealed that 68% of the attacks were discovered within seven days, while nearly half were discovered in less than 24 hours.

Another survey conducted by Ernst & Young found that 54% of patients were comfortable contacting a doctor via digital means. In addition, 36% of consumers expressed interest in using technology such as a smart phone to help make medical diagnoses at home.

Finally, opening keynote speaker Eric Schmidt, former executive chairman of Google’s parent company, expressed optimism regarding the use of new technology such as electronic health records to improve healthcare delivery and outcomes.

“A revolution has been happening in my industry,” Schmidt told the HIMSS audience, according to a report in Healthcare IT News. “The combination of cloud, deep neural networks, the explosion of data will give you a model.”


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