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Wanted: 40,000 more health IT professionals
Date:4/17/2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. If the U.S. healthcare system moves toward wider adoption of advanced information technology systems to control health care costs, reduce medical errors and improve patient care, it will need at least 40,000 additional health IT professionals or almost 40 percent more than U.S. hospitals now are estimated to employ.

That is the finding of an analytical report presented today, at a meeting on Capitol Hill of the Steering Committee on Telehealth and Healthcare Informatics, by William Hersh, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Medical Informatics & Clinical Epidemiology at Oregon Health & Science University.

The meeting was moderated by U.S. Rep. David Wu, D-Ore., author of a bill, H.R. 1467, addressing the need to train more health IT professionals, which the House passed recently and that is awaiting consideration in the Senate. I commend Dr. Hersh for his research on healthcare IT workforce issues. His findings further justify the need for my 10,000 Trained by 2010 Act, which provides funds for healthcare IT education. A workforce trained in healthcare IT is essential to bringing greater quality and efficiency to the healthcare industry.

The need for IT professionals in health information technology (HIT) settings is large and will increase as more advanced systems are implemented, Hersh and co-author Adam Wright concluded in their report.

If our data represent a correct sampling of the entire U.S., then the current IT staff workforce is about 108,390 FTE (full-time equivalents). However, if the U.S. HIT agenda is fulfilled and hospitals move to higher levels of adoption, an additional 40,784 FTE will be required.

That represents an increase of 37.6 percent over the current FTE total. This level of staffing, the reports authors say, would bring U.S. hospitals up to the advanced level of HIT adoption that has been shown to be associated with quality improvements and cost savings.

These findings also demonst
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Contact: Harry Lenhart
lenharth@ohsu.edu
503-697-7685
Oregon Health & Science University
Source:Eurekalert

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