Bridging The Healthcare IT Skills Gap
Healthcare companies are scrambling to cope with a shortage of health IT professionals so that they can meet government requirements, consumer expectations and their own strategic goals, according to a new PwC report. Some organizations are even poaching IT talent from non-healthcare fields, the researchers found.
The report suggests that healthcare providers, insurance companies and drug and device firms are also competing with one another for talented IT professionals.
Across all these health industry categories, 62 percent of CEOs surveyed were concerned about the availability of IT skills, and 51 percent said their organizations were threatened by the speed of technological change. Seventy-seven percent said they anticipated changes in their talent strategies.
PwC cited a recent survey by the College of Health Information Management Executives (CHIME) showing that 67 percent of healthcare providers are experiencing IT staff shortages. The shortage in skills is having an impact on the way CIOs run their departments – with new technology taking center stage all the time, they are having to employ staff who have a very in-depth knowledge.
CIOs have cited the need for specialists capable of implementing and supporting clinical applications, such as electronic health records (EHRs) and computerized provider order entry (CPOE) as the most pressing issue. The report also highlighted a need for employees with expertise in clinical informatics, followed by systems and data integration, and data statistics and analytics.
How transferrable are IT skills among the health sectors? “Configuring an EHR is a specialized skill for a hospital,” Edwards noted. “But when you're interested in sharing the data, or using it for secondary purposes, there's a lot of interest across all health sectors in how do we tap into this new source of data as an opportunity for our business. And that's causing people who have that analytics/data integration skill to be desired outside of provider settings.”
Health industry firms are also hiring IT analysts and statisticians from other fields, but Edwards noted that these people have a steep learning curve. Statisticians, he said, take three to six months to come up to speed on healthcare data, and they need extensive mentoring and support during that period.
The PwC survey confirmed CHIME's finding that many healthcare CIOs were hiring consultants to help fill the gaps in their IT ranks. Until recently, Edwards pointed out, the trend was for healthcare providers to outsource some or all of their IT work to consulting firms and staffing contractors; now many are bringing these functions in-house.
Another way to expand the talent pool, Edwards pointed out, is to retrain existing staff members who don't have IT backgrounds, “but are in strong operational roles and are willing to learn how to support some of these IT solutions.”
Dubai's new smart neuro spinal hospital: need to know
We take a look at Dubai's new smart hospital.
What: The Neuro Spinal Hospital and Radiosurgery Centre is a new hospital featuring state-of-the-art technology for spinal, neurosurgical, neurological, orthopaedic, radiosurgery and cancer treatments. The 700 million AED hospital, (equivalent to £138 million), has 114 beds, smart patient rooms, and green spaces for patient rehabilitation, and is four times the capacity of its former premises in Jumeirah. It is also the UAE’s first hospital to have surgical robots.
Where: The hospital is located in the Dubai Science Park. Founded in 2005, Dubai Science Park is home to more than 350 companies from multinational corporations in life sciences, biotechnology and research; over 4,000 people work here each day.
Who: The UAE's Neuro Spinal Hospital and Radiosurgery Centre was first established in Jumeirah in 2002 by Dr. Abdul Karim Msaddi, as the first as the first "super-specialty" neuroscience hospital.
Why: With advanced diagnosis and robotics, the hospital will provide care across neuroscience, spine, orthopaedics and oncology for people residing in the UAE, as well as international patients.
Prof. Abdul Karim Msaddi, Chairman and Medical Director of the hospital, said: “We are proud to bring world-class healthcare services to Dubai and believe our next-generation hospital will be a game-changer for the emirate’s and the region’s medical industry.
"It will not only significantly increase the availability of specialist neuroscience and radiosurgery treatments and provide better patient care but help attract and develop local and international talent. Investing in the new centre represents our continued faith in the resilience of the region’s economy, as well as a testament to our ongoing drive towards healthcare innovation in the UAE.”