Driving the demand are two things: the growing use of Epic Systems’ software at healthcare organizations, and the difficulty in getting Epic certified, says Caleb Potter, a principal recruiter for healthcare IT at the Seattle offices of recruiter Greythorn.
Epic’s software dominates the work involved with electronic health records, or EHR, notes Potter. Thanks to federal mandates, hospitals and other healthcare organizations will continue to expand their implementation of EHR systems and need IT professionals who can help them do it – at least for the next few years.
However, becoming a recognized Epic expert isn’t easy. You’ll need to work at, and be sponsored by, a healthcare organization or work at Epic itself to pursue a certification related to clinical systems, records and billing. As Potter observes, Epic keeps a tight rein on the process. (The company wouldn’t comment for this story.)
The certification process requires on-site training at Epic’s headquarters in Verona, Wisc., and also that you undertake actual project work in a hospital setting. Inevitably, the process limits the number of people with the certifications. “I hear it all of the time, how do I get certified?” Potter says. “People are usually disappointed with the news.”
If you’re interested in pursuing a certification, Potter suggests checking out the local market for hospital IT jobs and paying close attention to organizations that are already Epic customers.
The payoff from your Epic credentials can come quickly: Many certified professionals jump from the hospital to the consulting world soon after receiving their certifications. A big reason is money. According to Potter, health system IT employees might make between $65,000 and $110,000 a year, depending on their position. Consultants can take home between $70 to $115 an hour.
But even if you’re not interested in consulting, it’s a good time to be looking for work if you’ve got Epic credentials, says Mike Smith, a vice president at Orem, Utah-based KLAS Research. “Epic has had some incredible growth, and they’ve had more net new wins in the hospital-over-200-bed space than any other core software vendor doing core clinical software work,” he explains. That accounts for much of the job growth at Epic itself, and is the reason smaller consultants are constantly cropping up.
Still, the best opportunities are likely to be found at some of the bigger consulting firms. Deloitte is one of the leaders in terms of sheer project size, says Smith, and Accenture and Encore Health Resources have growing Epic practices.
The only question regards how much longer this demand will continue. “Epic is continuing to have success in the marketplace, and we think there’s still a bit of runway there for implementing new systems,” says Smith. “Two or three years from now, the amount of work will have to scale back, so then it becomes a replacement market.”
This means you should get your certifications with your eyes open. Once the big implementation work goes away, Epic specialists will need to retool and shift their focus. “Hospitals are under a lot of pressure to reduce costs and improve care, and so we’re anticipating more work on the optimization and analytics side,” says Smith.
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