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article imageEconomic uncertainty not impeding growth of healthcare IT jobs

By Michael Essany     May 7, 2014 in Health
According to preliminary seasonally adjusted figures just published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. employment grew by some 288,000 jobs during the month of March.
While these numbers are less buoyant than many market watchers would have preferred, the numbers would be far less promising if the healthcare sector wasn't expanding at such a fast clip, creating thousands of new jobs in the process on a monthly basis.
In March, healthcare added some 18,700 jobs - a veritable drop in the bucket compared to the growth some industry analysts expect throughout the remainder of this decade.
"Electronic Health Records (EHRs) have created a burgeoning genre of health IT jobs," says Alison Diana of InformationWeek. "While health IT once accounted for between 5% and 10% of a hospital's IT budget, it now represents 25 percent to 35 percent.
Kevin Holloran, a director in Standard & Poor's nonprofit healthcare group told Beckers Hospital Review, readily admits that the top EHR-related jobs available today span entry-level medical record technicians to well-paying executive positions at medical facilities large and small.
Despite a wide assortment of challenges believed to lurk on the horizon for the U.S. economy today, a slowdown in job growth across the healthcare IT spectrum is practically impossible, analysts say.
Technician jobs alone are expected to increase 22% between 2012 and 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Approximately 272,286 people will be EHR technicians by 2022, compared with 186,300 two years ago.
Unfortunately, the same InformationWeek article notes that nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of healthcare providers are having a difficult time finding qualified individuals certified to work, for example, with Epic, the foremost enterprise EHR for expansive health systems.
In order for the healthcare industry to fill the surplus of job openings ahead, more students and young adults will need to shift their academic focus toward healthcare information technology. Auspiciously, it's a movement that's already underway, as evidenced by the ballooning growth of academic powerhouses like AmeriTech College.
AmeriTech College's Health Information Technology program, for example, is an online education opportunity leading to the Associate in Applied Science degree. The program in question provides “career-focused education to produce job-and transfer-ready health information technology graduates.”
“This fully online program is designed to lead to employment in one of the nation’s fastest growing segments of the healthcare industry,” the program description reads on the AmeriTech College website.
Nico Arcino, senior director for digital health strategy at Kaiser Permanente, says healthcare IT "is being looked at now as part of the care delivery system, whether what we do relates to the supply chain, or video or EMRs or the device that's connected to the patients at their bedside."
And with the increasing dependence on IT comes the need for a young, educated, and plentiful healthcare IT workforce.
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