The health care industry is growing at a rapid pace. In May of this year, 47,000 new jobs were added, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And with federal regulation shifts and heightened demand for electronic medical records, information technology (IT) is a linchpin for industry changes. If you currently work in an IT career, or are considering entering IT, take a look at the health care industry for job prospects.
What is Health IT?
Health IT deals with the use of computer and digital technology in medical facilities, including electronic coding and billing systems, electronic medical records, and networks for digital imaging. Health IT professionals enter the field either from a medical background, or from IT experience in another industry.
Most health care employers prefer to hire IT professionals with medical background to provide contextual knowledge and understanding of medical terminology. Some employers provide IT skill training to clinical staff, to build technical understanding on their foundation of medical knowledge. But with increasingly complex IT systems and related work processes, formal IT training may be necessary.
And given recent increases in Health IT needs, many IT professionals with experience in other industries have made the transition to Health IT successfully.
IT professionals: same career, new industry
To move from another industry, an IT professional needs to learn about health care settings, and clearly understand that the primary mission and culture of health care is patient care. While IT may be a major focus in many corporate settings, IT projects often take a back seat to patient care priorities in health care settings. As a lower priority, IT systems may be antiquated and lack integration.
The employees who provide care are also a critical focus of the health care industry, so emphasizing this awareness and its implications will strengthen your job application process. In interviews, you may want to talk about the key players in health care – physicians, nurses, and other clinicians – and assure the interviewer of your commitment to support the quality and efficiency of their work. You may also expand your job-seeking opportunities if you have expertise related to current health care industry changes.
Health IT expertise in demand
- Information security. The rise in electronic health records and other government requirements have made medical data security and privacy a major focus in health care.
- Financial reporting systems. Federal requirements target industry billing changes, which present another significant industry challenge and an opportunity for IT development.
- Performance benchmarking and analytics that support performance reporting. New care delivery models require much clearer data on performance.
- Clinical expertise. Clinicians moving into IT can expect to see strong demand in nursing informatics, clinical process improvement, and service line analyst occupations.
Regardless of your prior experience, all Health IT job candidates need to meet some basic qualifications.
Getting into Health IT: education and certifications
A bachelor’s degree is the minimum entry level credential for most Health IT jobs, with either a health care-related or IT major. Health care professionals should maintain their clinical licensure and professional certifications, as these may be required or preferred, for IT positions. IT professionals should maintain their credentials as well. Certifications in demand include:
- Registered Health Information Technician
- Cisco Certified Network Associate
- Project Management Professional
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional
To learn more about IT certifications, visit CareerOneStop’s Certification Finder. Or research both healthcare and IT industries in CareerOneStop’s industry resources.
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