Health Care Leads in IT Hiring

Looking for a job in IT? You might want to head to the nearest hospital. Health care offers a top job market for those with an information technology degree.

Health care is a ballooning portion of the economy and will represent 20 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product by 2019, according to PwC. As the industry grows, so does the need for computer technology.

According to data from jobs site, the number of IT positions in health care is up 67 percent over a year and a half ago. Health care regulation has lit a fire under the industry’s demand for IT. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is 15 years old, and yet standards and expectations for healthcare technology continue to evolve. People with information systems management degrees will have extensive opportunities to update legacy systems, build new ones, and integrate complex infrastructures to support new regulatory demands.

The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act added significant requirements, as well as incentives, for healthcare organizations to use technology like electronic healthcare records (EHRs) to deliver better levels of treatment, ultimately at lower prices. The full effect of the relatively new law has yet to be felt. And then there is the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Delivering what is necessary will take significant spending.

According to market research firm RNCOS, healthcare IT spending will reach $40 billion by the end of this year and see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24 percent a year from 2012 to 2014. Spending on health care software has risen 20.5 percent since last year and will experience a 30 percent CAGR until 2014. Health care applications for mobile use on smartphones and tablets are also expected to be big. These aren’t just additions, but a complete overhaul of how health care manages data.

The industry doesn’t have enough people now to get the job done. However, although in need, organizations are picky about whom they hire. As notes, some of the positions most in demand have been CIO and CTO, and often they’re being hired from other industries to get new approaches to the necessary changes. For other IT positions, though, health care organizations are seeking IT workers with previous experience in the industry because of the time pressure for implementing the various technologies.

Ideally, what health care employers want is people who know both the clinical and IT sides, so they understand the technology as well as how it’s used and the medical terminology in common use. Those who want to excel might consider additional training, whether a health information management degree or even an accredited nursing program.