Starting in December 2012, U.S. medical consortium Kaiser Permanente started a hiring process that will add 500 health IT staff to its existing worldwide IT crew of 6,000 – and that’s just one company (albeit a fairly big one.)
If you’re currently working in medicine and looking for a career change, there’s never been a better time to look into making the move to healthcare-based Information Technology (IT).
On the off chance you’re reading this as a person currently employed in the IT industry and wondering what Health Information Technology (HIT) has to offer, the below might interest you as well:
Healthcare IT is basically any use of digital technology in the medical field to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare for patients, as well as for healthcare providers.
Examples of used for HIT include:
- improving overall health care quality (including evaluation and analysis of healthcare and healthcare administration effectiveness i.e. decreasing paperwork, etc…)
- helping prevent medical errors
- reducing health care costs
- providing more access to affordable care
In addition to reactive uses, HIT is also starting to become a useful tool in proactive ways, such as the early detection of infectious disease outbreaks and improved tracking of the progression and treatment of chronic disease.
According to those who have done it (and believe it or not) going from medicine to medical IT is the easier of the two paths.
Clinicians who start working in HIT jobs such as service line analysis, nursing informatics, or clinical process improvement are at a distinct advantage, having already been trained extensively in clinical knowledge and procedures.
Despite the intricacies of IT, it is still easier to learn programs and codes than it is to break in cold to the world of the lab or the ER.
One advantage of already having work experience in IT before going into an HIT job is that IT staff are used to an environment that thrives on change: something clinicians sometimes resist.
If you’re an IT professional looking to break into the growing but also highly competitive HIT field, though, you’ll need to clearly identify their tech-based strengths and be ready to convince hiring committees that your hard and soft skills outweigh those of other applicants with IT and/or healthcare backgrounds.
Once in an HIT job, the learning curve for becoming acquainted with the clinical work will be steep and ongoing.
One way to look at how dramatic the rise in HIT has been in just the last few months alone is via the increase in mergers and acquisitions of healthcare-based IT companies, which were up a healthy (but perhaps not surprising) 21% in 2012.
Another way to put the growing influence of digital tools in healthcare is the rising number of patients (a majority) who have researched their medical condition online before or after seeing a doctor. In-fact, according to a consumer survey by health technology provider Philips Healthcare, one in 10 say health-related websites “saved their lives.”
While the healthcare and IT industries continue to be the two best bets in the job sector, HIT (currently the fastest-growing IT sector globally) is an exciting combination of these two worlds, and a career path you may not have thought of.
A WAY more detailed look at breaking into HIT from medicine AND from IT
Overview of Healthcare IT areas and uses
Blogs, articles, and guides about IT in healthcare