7 Hottest IT Healthcare Skills

With the compliance date for ICD-10 looming in 2014, demand for Healthcare IT (HIT) professionals is on the rise. Healthcare providers rushing to get their technology updated is generating new IT job opportunities within an already-growing market. CIO.com counts down the seven most in-demand skills for HIT.

7 Hottest IT Healthcare Skills
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IT Healthcare Skills

IT has been on a steady growth track for more than two years. No area has shown more growth than IT healthcare, "BLS reports indicate that healthcare is the leading growth industry in the U.S. and predicted to be through 2020," says Keith Fulmer, executive vice president of the national healthcare consultancy practice for Kforce Healthcare Solutions. "Security is inherent in all of these roles--understanding the HIPPA requirements and being able to structure and design software to be compliant is a challenge in this environment," says Fulmer. Employers are focusing on IT skills as their first priority when hiring potential employees.

Compliance Date for ICD-10

Salary Data Source: Indeed.com

Quality Assurance
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7. Quality Assurance

It's no surprise that quality assurance made the list. Any time software or hardware has an end-user, QA should play an important role on your IT team. QA people are responsible for inspecting the software, uncovering and preventing bugs and glitches, as well as generally polishing your user experience. "QA people are a big component as we look at unit and user-testing for EMR [Electronic Medical Records ] and ICD-10, " says Fulmer. A Quality Assurance Specialist can bring in, on average, $92,000 in annual salary.

Data Architect
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6. Data Architect

With the proliferation of patient information in IT healthcare, big data is changing how providers manage their data. It affects everything from how doctors interact with patient's data to how IT healthcare providers get paid. "Data architects in IT healthcare are all about developing BI in the hospital environment and require healthcare knowledge and expertise," says Fulmer, "They really need to understand the platform that the data is running on." Data architects can expect to make an average of $110,000 annually.

Application Development
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5. Application Development

Solid application developers are in demand in every facet of IT, and BLS numbers predicted a 32 percent growth in demand for IT workers with this skill for 2012. What's hot in HIT? "Healthcare IT needs worker skilled at traditional programming languages like Java and .NET [as well as] mainframe experience," says Fulmer. This skill is also a good for transitioning from traditional IT to HIT, says Fulmer. HIT application developers can expect to earn on average $95,000 annually.

Program Management
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4. Program Management

Program managers in the healthcare environment are responsible for a portfolio of projects working directly with project managers. "In addition to the projects, the program manager may be responsible for the overall change management, risk management and executive reporting," says Fulmer. For example, the approaching compliance date for ICD-10, a code set to document conditions and procedures that exists in every level of healthcare IT, means that even small hospitals have up to 40 projects required to become compliant. This is only portion of HIT, which may have several other on-going projects at a given time making this a skill that will only increase in demand in 2013. Program Managers who work in Healthcare IT can expect to make on average $97,000 annually.

Project Management
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3. Project Management

According to ComputerWorld's 2013 Forecast survey of 334 IT executives, 40 percent plan to hire individuals with project management skills and, as with program managers, demand for this role is increasing as IT healthcare prepares for ICD-10 compliance. "Companies need multiple project managers to get compliant," says Fulmer. "The most valuable project managers will have experience in the ongoing issues affecting HIT." Project managers who work in healthcare IT earn on average $105,000 annually.

Healthcare Analytics
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2. Healthcare Analytics

Businesses all have increasing amounts of data and healthcare is no different. Companies need skilled workers to interpret that data. "An HIT analytics person is responsible for understanding patient workflows though a provider organization and identifying areas where improvement could be made to either reduce costs or improve patient care," says Fulmer. This position is normally specialized within certain areas of the hospital. "Each area has unique challenges," says Fulmer. "Healthcare analytics are similar to BI in the sense that data is constructed and routines are generated to develop predictive vs. reactive patient care outcomes." A specific knowledge of healthcare operations, finance and patient care is required to be successful in this role. Individuals working in healthcare analytics average $102,000 annually.

EMR Build Specialist
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1. EMR Build Specialist

The hottest IT healthcare skill, coming in at number 1 on our list, belongs to the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) Build Specialists. "Regardless of vendor [HIT] needs people to build and configure systems specific to the client environment," says Fulmer. "EMRs need a significant amount of healthcare knowledge specific to patient care along with some accounting, almost like a CRM, but there's more complexity because there is more involvement with patients," says Fulmer. EMRs earn on average $75,000 annually.