Breaking into the Healthcare IT job market

One of the most popular questions that I am routinely asked about is how to get a job in the (now hot again) healthcare IT market. I was doing a little poking around on JuJu.com, a job search engine, and the nice folks there gave me some interesting statistics based on their usage patterns:

  • IT positions make up approximately 3.5-7.0% of all healthcare jobs and this number is on the rise.
  • Although the percentage of healthcare IT remains small relative to the healthcare field in general, there appears to be growing demand and consistent demand for this skill set as the field develops
  • JuJu.com estimates that the number healthcare IT jobs has risen by about 10-15% since 2008, based on data, information, and postings on their site

The demand of course is organic and the need for better technology and information management in the healthcare market is fairly evident. If you’re not an expert in healthcare IT, how could enter the field? It’s actually a little easier than you might think but you’ll need to be creative. Here are some ideas.

  • If you’ve got experience running or working in a medical office or you’re an experienced project manager you can apply for an implementation specialist or assistant at almost any healthcare IT firm like an EMR or EHR vendor, consulting firm, or systems integrator. The thing to keep in mind is that every customer that buys an EMR needs to have it installed and deployed and that’s done by implementation folks. There is a shortage of people that can take complex products like EHRs and EMRs live.
  • If you have a little or a lot of general IT experience but no healthcare IT experience you can start by working in a technical support or training capacity. You would get the opportunity to learn new products and use your IT experience to provide customer service, support, and training talent.
  • If you’re interested in the software side you can think of being a tester of software; vendors need good quality assurance and configuration management personnel and that’s a great place to begin your healthcare IT career.
  • If you’re good at writing, consider joining the documentation team for creating training materials, videos, screencasts, or other related artifacts necessary to teach people how to use healthcare IT.
  • If you’re a developer interested in writing software but you’re not experienced in healthcare, join one of the many open source projects that are out there building open source EMRs, EHRs, PHRs, and related tools. Open source is a great way to join a community of people willing to help you if you’re willing to give back to them, too.
  • If you’re an integration specialist (you know EAI, EDI, EII, ETL, ESBs, or other integration techniques) start to learn HL7, CCR, and CCD and you can write your own ticket almost anywhere. The majority of healthcare problems in the IT arena are integration and deployment problems so if you know scripting and HL7 you’re good to go.

What if you can’t find a job because you don’t have enough experience and no one will hire you due to lack of experience? Well, then find one or more open source projects where you can help with documentation, training materials preparation, quality assurance, software code, design, configuration management, or a host of other tasks. By working on an open source project you will get the experience you need without having to be hired by someone. Then, you can use that on your resume to show that you’ve got capabilities because projective employers can actually download and see what you’ve done.

If you have other ideas for folks on how to break into the HIT job market, leave some comments here.

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25 thoughts on “Breaking into the Healthcare IT job market

  1. I think it is true time in the United States, the Job Market is contracting. However, the economy is starting to turn around. But because businesses are weary of spending, they will be slow to expand. In a few months, maybe a year businesses will be expanding, and economic expansion will begin to increase steadily.

      1. Thanks Shahid. I just wish that “guys” was plural. I'm a one man show like yourself. Granted, I have a large following which deserves credit for the wiki and the great comments. So, I guess in that respect there's many of us the contribute.

  2. Pingback: Getting an EMR Job | EMR and EHR

  3. These are great ideas. I'd like to add one. I found my first Healthcare IT job as a contractor. This is a great way to get in many companies for IT folks. I've been doing contract work for them for three years now.

    Thank you for the advice, it was very helpful.

    1. Thanks for those quick tips, if I am not wrong DICOM also plays a role there. Got caught in Integration Techniques specified like EAI, EDI, EII, ETL, ESBs, or other with regards to HL7, any pointers where to hook up for information on these

  4. I am also interested in health care IT job and feel much more satisfied after reading your post. Thanks a lot.

  5. Looking for the Best!

    Reply

    Excellent advise, thank you. In addition, I will ad that if your looking to get in on the sales side of EMR there are dozens of companies that are training people on line to market their HIT solutions. This has been my experience for the past couple months as I am trying to identify a company that provides the best solutions for doctors. It is challenging but I am weeding out many as I venture to leverage my 15 years of consultatitive sales in to the HIT industry. Research, research and more research….Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  6. Looking for the Best!

    Reply

    Excellent advise, thank you. In addition, I will ad that if your looking to get in on the sales side of EMR there are dozens of companies that are training people on line to market their HIT solutions. This has been my experience for the past couple months as I am trying to identify a company that provides the best solutions for doctors. It is challenging but I am weeding out many as I venture to leverage my 15 years of consultatitive sales in to the HIT industry. Research, research and more research….Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  7. nice post Mr. Shahid. as a Internet marketing specialist i have seen many up and downs in the IT global marketing last 2 years,this all was because of recession time. many peoples lost their job. the healthcare is the only one who couldn't affected by the recession more much.and that why many IT specialist turn towards them.it attract all people to join the healthcare . yeah there are many ways to join healthcare but the most suitable way i think is SAP as SAP now has become in demand now.
    By:

  8. this is very interesting to see all tips to get entered in healthcare field.
    as th recession gave the maximum loss to IT sector.and many IT professionals lost their job in that time.i am vry thankful to you to share your ideas to help the guyslike me.
    By :

  9. Good article. What if you're a more senior IT professional hoping to break into healthcare. Any tips?

    I guess the major gap then becomes industry knowledge. Some of that can be picked up from books (and sites like this!) but does anyone have specific recommendations?

    1. I think the best advice for more senior IT professionals is to network with existing experts (look at http://www.hitsphere.com, for example) and join up with them. There is more work going to be available soon than there are people to do the work so affiliating yourself with other independent experts makes sense.

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