A new analysis of the healthcare information technology (IT) workforce indicates that as hospitals and health systems continue to adopt electronic health records (EHRs) and other forms of IT, as many as 19,852 to 153,114 more full-time equivalent (FTE) personnel may be required to maintain operational efficiency. This analysis has been published in an article by Dr. William Hersh and colleagues Keith Boone and Annette Totten in JAMIA Open called "Characteristics of the healthcare information technology workforce in the HITECH era: underestimated in size, still growing, and adapting to advanced uses." This article updates an original analysis done before the passage of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which has led to substantial growth in both the adoption of EHRs and healthcare IT workforce.
The data used in the analysis focused only on hospitals and health systems, but informatics/IT workforce growth will also likely occur in other health-related areas. The results remind us that there will likely be growing opportunities for those who train and work in biomedical and health informatics for entrance into a variety of fields and disciplines.
This article serves as a continuation of a research interest of Hersh that emerged over a decade ago. Over the course of his professional career, Hersh became interested in the characteristics of the healthcare IT workforce and its professional development, leading him to inquire about research that had been done in this area. Finding essentially none, Hersh embarked on a research project that centered on the analysis of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society ( HIMSS) Analytics Database. The HIMSS database mostly focuses on the IT systems that hospitals and health systems implement, but also contains data on IT staffing . The result of the analysis was a paper that garnered a great detail of attention when it was published in 2008, including an invitation for Hersh to present his findings in Washington, DC to the Capitol Hill Steering Committee on Telehealth and Healthcare Informatics.