What human capital does it take to develop healthcare IT and EHR apps?

With tons of money coming into the healthcare IT ecosystem, it’s become vogue to build healthcare IT and EHR applications. When an engineer new to healthcare looks at a typical health application they think they can throw something quickly and sometimes bad advice is being given to business people who are budgeting for new projects.

I’m often asked “What human capital does it take to develop healthcare IT and EHR apps?” The answer of course is not easy nor can a single answer suffice for all projects. However, when you’re considering new or sustaining engineering projects be sure you’ve considered all the roles listed below.

  • Clinicians and healthcare professionals (HCP) like docs, nurses, etc. – perhaps as consultants
  • Senior project manager – about $150k per year
  • User interaction engineer (UX, usability) – about $120k per year
  • Web design engineers (UI, HTML, JavaScript) – about $60k to $100k per year
  • Web developers (UI, PHP, JavaScript, HTML) – about $80k to $120k per year
  • Mobile app developers (iOS, Android, etc.) — about $90k per year
  • Database modeler and information architect (SQL) — about $150k per year
  • Database administrator (SQL) –  about $120k per year
  • API engineer (REST / SOAP) – about $120k per year
  • Service code engineers (Java, Ruby, etc.) – about $150k per year
  • Security analyst and privacy engineer (HIPAA, HITECH, Sarbox, etc.) — perhaps as consultants, $175k per year
  • Cloud infrastructure admins (Amazon, Eucalyptus) – about $90k per year
  • Network infrastructure admin / engineer (TCP/IP, etc.) – about $120k per year
  • Data integration engineers (ESB / ETL / connectors) – about $90k per year
  • HL7 and healthcare data integration conformance engineers – about $90k per year
  • Technical documentation specialist – about $60k per year
  • Quality assurance directors (test strategy, test planning) — about $120k per year
  • Quality assurance engineers (test planning, manual execution) – about $80k per year
  • Quality assurance automation (automated execution) engineers – about $90k per year
  • Trainers (folks with healthcare office experience plus tech knowhow) — about $60k per year

How many people you need to fill each type of role is determined by the size of your project and deliverables. The costs shown above are average costs within the USA (India and offshore are about 35% cheaper). Costs vary within the USA as well but the costs above are meant to give you enough to budget with — I hope you can see that if you’re trying to do things “right” (whatever that means) you need many different roles fulfilled. If you can find smart people that can fulfill more than one role simultaneously then you’ll able to spend less.

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11 thoughts on “What human capital does it take to develop healthcare IT and EHR apps?

  1. Don't forget a few folks with target audience clinical experience – so that you actually design something useful/functional for the workflow. Unfortunately, not including clinicians in the initial design stages seems to be fairly common.

  2. @Jaredhouck

    “Unfortunately, not including clinicians in the initial design stages seems to be fairly common.”

    This was possibly the biggest mistake made by the English National Health Service's “National Programme for IT” when it started up. There was very little 'coal face' consultation.

    @Shahid

    You would probably want a security analyst at design time to ensure that security requirements were included within the design. Also, security testers for module/code testing during application/system build and for functional/non-functional testing duties at final system build time. You'll probably also want a penetration testing team to take a look at the overall solution as well, prior to customer delivery.

  3. Another important metric is the number of people you have on these various teams. Obviously you wouldn't hire one of each and call it a day. That really depends on the project/product though, and some of these roles might not even be necessary if it is on the smaller side. Also, the teams can be mixed a bit, e.g. hiring a core development team locally, and an offshore development team to supplement them.

  4. I'm glad you listed clinicians first as they are among the most important participants. A cross functional team should be involved with a participant for each major role in the workflow.
    Lew Sauder, Author, Consulting 101: 101 Tips For Success in Consulting.

  5. I am a Software Engineer / Web Application Developer / EDI Specialist (HL7, TCP/IP, SOAP) and Manager / Lead Security Engineer / Database engineering-modeling-admin-implementation / and User Interface Engineer.  I make less a year than the lowest number on your list for ALL the roles I fill, and we are the #1 EMR in our target regional market (big market).  I have NEVER seen salaries like the ones you propose here offered anywhere in the United States, even for 10 years of solid, proven profitable experience with a MS requirement.

    I ask you, where are salaries like this offer?

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