Jobs with a health information exchange (HIE) looks like a great career opportunity. After all, the Obama administration provided $783 billion to set up state and regional HIEs to help incompatible healthcare information systems communicate and hopefully improve the quality and reduce the cost of care.
And then, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) spent $120 million for a workforce development program that includes a six-month junior college regimen and a university program that grants advanced certification or master’s degrees, curriculum development centers and a competency examination program.
But so far, the exchanges have fewer than five employees and they aren’t hiring new grads to fill their IT vacancies. Although 255 small, publicly-funded HIEs exist in the U.S., and 25 percent say they’re short on staff with IT experience, only three of the exchanges said they’d hired people who were trained in the ONC workforce development program according to a recent survey. The exchanges say new graduates need more hands-on technical experience, so they’re using consultants to fill the gap.
And then there’s the snail’s pace transition from paper to digital patient records. In fact, there may not be enough digitized information for public information exchanges to survive once the government funding dries up.
Finally, some hospital systems are creating their own HIEs. And while experts claim that those systems will eventually have to connect through a public entity, it will be a while before the onslaught of data and jobs reaches your local HIE.