That demand for healthcare and IT experience winnows the field of candidates considerably. And despite its proximity to New York City, the 14-hospital health system has had to recruit from all over the nation. They're finding candidates in consulting firms, other hospitals, physicians' offices, health insurance companies, and across the healthcare sector. "You can have the people in the background who understand the pure technology side, but what makes it successful is having people out there who understand the business, whether that is finance or physician practices or any area of the hospital," Bosco says. "You have to have people who understand that particular line of business to be out there working with the end user."
Alex Rodriguez, CIO at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, in Edgewood, KY, puts a higher premium on healthcare experience than he does on IT experience. "IT skills can always be augmented with additional training. But you can't sacrifice critical thinking and good communications skills," he says.
St. Elizabeth, like many hospitals, is growing its own HIT force with clinicians. "We've been hiring nurses and radiology technicians and people inclined to work with IT, and who have an IT bent," Rodriguez says. "It's all about understanding clinical business processes. That is the separation—being able to have the communication skills to dive into how the business processes work, the communication skills and the thinking skills to determine how the new technology applications are going to be used."
As for compensation, Bosco says he expects to see continued "upward pressure" on salary and benefits packages for HIT staff, because they know they're in high demand. Rodriguez says he would have agreed a few years ago, but that the landscape changed with the poor economy. "People are looking for stability and people are looking for a place that they can be enriched with what they are doing," he says. "Money is not the whole story anymore."