Healthcare and related industries are home to the fastest-growing job sectors in the country and, according to experts, that trend will continue well past 2020. Many of those jobs will be in health information technologies (HIT). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of health information professionals is expected to grow 22% from 2012 to 2022, outpacing the average for other occupations.
The tremendous growth is creating a dearth in the job pool: According to one survey, 34% of leaders in the healthcare industry say they "canceled or delayed a key strategic initiative" due to lack of available talent. Initiatives such as the shift to electronic health and medical records and ICD-10, which encompasses the addition of more than 130,000 new medical codes will make professionals with HIT experience more employable than ever.
Some job paths to pay particular attention to when considering a future in HIT include:
- Electronic medical or health record (EMR, EHR) development and maintenance – “From design and implementation of systems to ensuring information integrity, collating meaningful use data, and introducing patients to portals, the EHR has opened new doors for health information management (HIM) in the traditional and non-traditional settings,” according to ADVANCE for Health Information Professionals.
- Analytics – Once all the data has been collected, professionals are needed to read, analyze and offer suggestions for program improvements. Hospitals build care protocols from collected data and staffing projections come from analyzing patient admission and diagnosis trends. Insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and medical supply manufacturers all study healthcare data when making production and payment decisions. This also contributes to the discipline of population health management at large.
- Coding – Coding experts are needed to help healthcare providers shift to a new, international standard coding system called ICD-10 (the 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems). ICD-10 is a medical classification list used to classify diseases and other health problems. It increases the number of medical codes from about 18,000 to more than 150,000. By Oct. 1, 2015, every doctor’s office, health clinic, long- and short-term care facility and will be required to diagnose and by the more detailed ICD-10 system. Healthcare providers will likely need additional staff to become and stay compliant.
- Education and Research – For there to be an expanding employee pool there must be colleges teaching them. Opportunities in the education sector will likely grow to meet student demands.
- Meaningful Use Specialist – The Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs provide financial incentives for the “meaningful use” of certified Electronic Health Record (HER) technology. There are three stages with increasing requirements for participation. Meaningful use refers to using electronic health records to improve quality, safety and care coordination among healthcare providers, as well as maintaining privacy and security of patient health information and more. It is hoped that meaningful use compliance will lead to better clinical outcomes, improved population health outcomes, increased transparency and efficiency and more robust research data. Specialists in this field access ensure that a medical facility, employees and its affiliates comply with HITECH requirements and deadlines for Meaningful Use.