Navigation Links
Wanted: 40,000 more health IT professionals

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 demonstrate the need to better understand and develop education and training for health IT professionals, said Hersh, who directs OHSUs educational programs in biomedical informatics. In addition, further analysis must be done on other health IT professions, such as those who are biomedical informatics professionals as well as those who work in non-hospital settings.

Extrapolating their findings to Oregon, Hersh and Wright determined that, even though Oregon has a higher rate of adoption electronic health record systems than the nation as a whole, the states healthcare providers would need an additional 302 IT staff beyond the 802 currently employed, a percentage increase identical to the national estimate, in order to advance to higher levels of adoption.

Hershs presentation took place in the House Science and Technology Committee hearing room in the Rayburn House Office Building. Wu is chairman of that committees Subcommittee on Technology and also honorary co-chair of the Steering Committee on Telehealth and Healthcare Informatics.

The report was based on an analysis of the HIMSS Analytics Database, the largest and most comprehensive data source of its kind, which contains information from about 5,000 U.S. hospitals. The database recently incorporated its EMR Adoption Model, which scores hospitals on eight stages of progress toward a paperless record environment. The study posits Stage 4 as an advanced level of HIT adoption. Stage 4 includes computerized physician order entry (CPOE) to avoid misinterpretation of handwritten prescriptions, for example, and other forms of clinical decision support that have been show to be associated with improvements in the quality and safety of health care.

Many of the 4,929 hospitals for which an EMR Adoption Model score was available either did not respond to the question of what their IT FTE number was or reported that it was fewer than 5. That left 1,318 hospitals with 372,840 licensed beds or 49 percent of all licensed beds in the country. These had an overall IT staffing ratio of 0.142 IT FTE per hospital bed, or a total of 108,390 FTE. Stage 4 hospitals had a higher IT FTE ratio per bed (0.210), of course, than Stage 0 (0.082) where HIT applications were very limited. But, paradoxically, they also had a higher staff ratio than Stage 6 hospitals (0.196). The report did not have an explanation for this deviation. But they based their conclusion that healthcare systems would need 40,784 additional IT full time staff based on the Stage 6 ratio.

Despite calls for wider use of health information technology (HIT) to improve health, health care, public health, and biomedical research, there are many barriers to its adoption, wrote Hersh and Wright. Although barriers of finance and implementation issues are most commonly discussed, less attention has been paid to the workforce required to develop, implement, train users of, and evaluate HIT applications.

For the full text of the Hersh and Wright report, Characterizing the Health Information Technology Workforce: Analysis from the HIMSS Analytics Database, go to

HIT systems, if widely adopted, hold the promise of revolutionizing U.S. healthcare. It is widely believed that they would improve clinical decisions and thereby reduce medical errors and improve healthcare quality. All three major presidential contenders favor incentives to encourage a move away from the paper-based systems that still dominate in U.S. healthcare institutions.


Contact: Harry Lenhart
Oregon Health & Science University

Related biology news :

1. Study finds blocking angiogenesis signaling from inside cell may lead to serious health problems
2. Youre likely to order more calories at a healthy restaurant
3. UC health news: molecular pathway may predict chemotherapy effectiveness
4. Genes, Environment and Health Initiative invests in genetic studies, environmental monitoring
5. UCR engineers to develop new tool to measure how environmental exposures affect health
6. Researchers developing device to predict proper light exposure for human health
7. Thousands of starving children could be restored to health with peanut butter program
8. Smithsonian researchers develop models to assess wetland health
9. AIBS to cohost symposium on evolution, disease and human health
10. NASA celebrates a decade observing climate impacts on health of worlds oceans
11. Conference to examine role technology can play in helping US manage healthcare costs
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/29/2015)... Calif. , Oct. 29, 2015  The J. ... new report titled, "DNA Synthesis and Biosecurity: Lessons Learned ... the Department of Health and Human Services guidance for ... in 2010. --> ... it also has the potential to pose unique biosecurity ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or ... the growing mobile commerce market and creator of ... leading marketplace to discover and buy innovative technology ... on StackSocial for this holiday season.   ... a biometric authentication company focused on the growing ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... SAN JOSE, Calif. , Oct. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... human interface solutions, today announced that Google has adopted ... family of touch controller solutions to power its newest ... Nexus 6P by Huawei. --> ... ecosystem partners like Google to provide strategic collaboration in ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 2015 , ... InSphero AG, the leading supplier of easy-to-use solutions for production, ... to serve as Chief Operating Officer. , Having joined InSphero in November ... and was promoted to Head of InSphero Diagnostics in 2014. There she has ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... HemoShear Therapeutics, LLC, a privately held ... disorders, announced today the appointment of H. ... (BOD). Mr. Watkins is the former president and ... and also served as the chairman of the ... Chairman and CEO of HemoShear Therapeutics. "The combination ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nov. 24, 2015 According to two new studies, ... This is something that many doctors, scientists, and public health ... remains: with fewer PSA tests being done, will there be ... Dr. David Samadi, "Despite the efforts made in ... the second leading cancer cause of death in men, killing ...
(Date:11/23/2015)... ... November 23, 2015 , ... Shimadzu Corporation ... its Nexera UC Unified Chromatography system. The award from R&D magazine recognizes Shimadzu’s ... of the year in the analytical and testing category. R&D Magazine chose the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: