Health IT Workforce Shortage?

Widely publicized studies predict a healthcare workforce shortage over the next 8-10 years.   Numbers from The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicate that the Health IT workforce accounts for a significant portion of the shortfall. The BLS estimates that 51,000 health IT professionals are needed to meet projected growth in the Health IT industry.

The federal government is fueling the growth in an effort to take advantage of the improvements in public health and cost savings offered by Health IT. With HHS incentives, traditional healthcare providers are signing up en masse to receive government assistance in adopting electronic health records (EHR). HHS recently enrolled 100,000 rural healthcare providers in Health IT extension centers ahead of schedule. The centers support EHR adoption among rural healthcare providers.

To support the federal government’s own Health IT needs, HHS is developing the CIO – Solutions and Partners 3, or CIO-SP3, contract vehicle. CIO-SP3 will facilitate streamlined acquisition of Health IT services by federal agencies.

To meet all of this demand, IT providers must find ways to put the “Health” in Health IT. This means re-training existing team members as discussed in our previous post Staffing: Recruit, Train and Retain. On the recruiting side, recruiters must be able to assess applicant IT skills that are relevant to Health IT. To get started, basic knowledge of federal healthcare reform laws and pending legislation will help determine where the market is heading. One resource for getting this type of information is The National Association for Health Care Recruitment (NAHCR) which supports recruiters by providing “education, information and resources”.

Health IT recruiters are employing recruiting strategies of yesteryear in concert with Web 2.0 techniques.  Right Management found that “traditional networking was the source of new career opportunities for 41% of job candidates last year, while Internet job boards account for 25% of new positions landed.” The combination of old fashioned networking (referrals), head hunting and job fairs with recruiting blogs, podcasts, social networking and job boards is yielding results more consistent than a focus on a single medium.

Today’s market demands that employers not only attract exceptional candidates but captivate and develop them too. IT providers must produce a candidate friendly experience that allows for creative, resourceful, and functional recruiting possibilities. Candidates should be viewed in many of the same ways that providers view their customers.  The simple steps below will help to captivate and create a winning experience for your candidates. Build a culture that:

  • Respects and appreciates your Health IT candidates
  • Values listening
  • Communicates early and often and does not wait for “candidate feedback”
  • Seeks first to understand, then to be understood, per Stephen Covey
  • Provides more than expected
  • Understands customer requirements
  • Apologizes when appropriate

The most successful recruiting approaches are relationship driven, flexible and combine current recruiting trends with good old-fashioned techniques.  When moving from traditional practices into the Recruiting 2.0 world, take a risk and get started. Then pause to evaluate the results, identify lessons learned, take corrective actions as necessary and continue to communicate with your customers, employees and recruits.