As electronic health record (EHR) requirements and more stringent enforcement of HIPAA privacy laws go into effect, the demand for professionals to help guide practices in this brave new world is rising.
One of the reasons for the demand is found in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or HITECH Act for short. Passed as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), this legislation accelerated the creation of EHR systems among healthcare providers. Its offshoot is growth in the healthcare technology field as professionals in areas such as research informatics, IT, electronic medical records and other related disciplines find themselves in high demand.
The HITECH Act brings with it a number of key aspects that are driving the demand for IT-related professionals within the healthcare industry.
Some facets that are of great importance to medical practices include:
As the provisions of the HITECH Act go into place, the demand for skilled labor in the healthcare IT industry is growing. Some market analysts anticipate more than 50,000 new jobs over the next five years while some place those projections even higher. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates the healthcare industry to become the "largest employing major sector" during the next decade as it strives to keep up with new regulations.
The HITECH Act itself allots $25.9 billion for the expansion of healthcare IT, and it’s showing in the growing demand for professionals. Some of the top jobs include clinical research informatics, IT specialists, electronic medical records administrators and graduate program directors.
The field also is potentially lucrative. According to the American Health Information Management Association, mid-range salaries for health informatics consultants are in the upper $80,000s. Those in management can earn salaries as high as $200,000.
Students interested in taking advantage of the doors opened by the HITECH Act are urged to conduct their own research. Job availability and salaries may vary based on position, employer and geographical location.