The educational initiative is crucial to surviving the IT shortage, Sripada says. He advises healthcare leaders to start early, to get current clinicians in the training pipeline so that they will be ready years from now when the demand for techs is even greater. Sripada points out that most providers who retrain their clinicians
for IT don’t actually do all the training themselves. That would be a daunting task to do well, he says. Instead, most partner with a local community college or university. Regional extension centers also offer subsidized training.
Wolf is president and CEO of Montefiore Medical Center’s wholly owned IT subsidiary, Emerging Health Information Technology. The subsidiary grew out of Montefiore’s IT department and started offering its services to other hospitals. But with Montefiore trying to qualify for meaningful use payments this year, the subsidiary reduced new outside activities and now devotes almost all of its techs to Montefiore’s needs.
“Even with that, we still found ourselves out in the marketplace trying to hire more qualified implementation staff,” Wolf says.
To address the lack of experience in the IT staff that could be hired, seasoned implementation techs at Montefiore work closely with the new hires, who may be just out of college or have a year or two experience in technical work but are not familiar with EMRs. An IT team will consist of one senior staffer and two junior employees.
Montefiore is currently about 40 IT professionals short, which Wolf says has been par for the course since the push for meaningful use. Like Beaumont, Montefiore is looking at more retraining of in-house clinicians.