7 Healthcare IT Roles That Are Transforming Tech Careers

Healthcare IT is becoming one of the fastest growing areas in the job market as health service providers rush to get compliant and adopt new technologies.

Even in a down economy healthcare continues to grow, and lot of that growth falls inside of the IT realm. A convergence of mobility, new legislation, HIPPA compliance and emerging technologies are creating a market that is hungry for talent that not only knows IT but has a solid understanding of healthcare.

  • ARRA stimulus funding - Meaningful Use
  • ICD-10 Conversion
  • Lowering Healthcare Costs
  • Demand to integrate healthcare systems
  • Mobility and Device Integration

Healthcare IT Growth Factors

As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, more jobs are being created that blend the skills of both IT workers and healthcare workers. And with the adoption of electronic medical records, telemedicine and ICD-10 migration, this trend is picking up momentum.

Healthcare IT Roles that are Transforming an Industry

In CompTIA's 4th Annual Healthcare IT Insights and Opportunities survey, 375 doctors, dentists, healthcare providers and administrators from small- and mid-size practices were asked about the trends driving healthcare and IT.

The main takeaway is that the importance of IT to healthcare providers continues to trend upwards. "A net 89 percent of physicians and other providers now rate IT as important/very important to their practice," according to the CompTIA survey.

CIO.com spoke with Healthcare IT experts to see where the demand lies for these hybrid roles within this transforming market. Here are the seven roles they identified:

1. Clinical Applications Analyst

These professionals are the ones who can actually connect the workflow of what is taking place when you look at everything that happens between patients, clinicians, doctors and various support folks like social workers.

"These are people who are able to manage what the transformation of those work processes need to do. They are the lingo bridge, the flow bridge, the translation bridge and they are the lexicon bridge between clinical workflow and application functionality," says Randy Gaboriault, Christiana Care Health System.

These individuals will have a strong clinical background and work to improve workflows using their unique experience, whether it's on the revenue side or in the operating room. Clinical application analysts work as a liaison of sorts between patient care and clinical technologies. They help to design, implement, maintain and train to support clinical and/or business systems.

Annual Average Salary: $71,000

2. Clinical Informatics

This is where computer science, information science and healthcare converge. These are people who help us look at the data and information and how we use that information. "[In healthcare] we capture all these little things that happen, we capture all these transactional things. All this information healthcare actually has to now mine and use to better inform what we do with patients of similar composition. What informaticists do is mine information and help turn it into meaningful, operative action on the frontline of clinical delivery," says Gaboriault.

As you might expect, hospitals collect an enormous amount of data and someone needs to be able to make that data useful. "Basically it's data analytics," says Dana Anderson, client services executive at Modis, an IT staffing firm. Anderson works within Modis' hospital and healthcare division.

"The whole goal of meaningful use is to have improved health outcomes. They [clinical informatics] identify trends and then apply the data to real-life scenarios, "says Liann Brobst, a national healthcare IT recruiter with Modis.

Annual Average Salary: $89,000

3. ICD-10 Conversion Project Manager

These project managers are overseeing the conversion from ICD-9 to ICD-10. "These workers will likely have experience in health information management and have worked as coders in the past. They will be in charge of coming up with a game plan for the ICD-10 conversion," says Anderson.

ICD-10 deals with all the necessary encoding of data that goes on in the hospital. For example, someone who visits the emergency room has a broken arm. That person sees a doctor and has a cast put on. All those interactions are then coded into a standardized billing language. It's what Gaboriault calls the "Care-to-Claim" process.

"Typically, hospitals want someone who has experience with these conversions so they can hit the ground running," says Brobst. ICD (International Classification of Diseases) is a medical classification code set used to record different ailments, procedures, surgeries and anything else you may have done to you at the hospital. The U.S. is one of the last countries to adopt ICD-10 and the conversion is set to happen October 2014.

In the meantime, hospitals and healthcare providers are all working furiously to meet the deadline. "Every organization has got to do this," says Gaboriault.

Annual Average Salary: $94,000

4. ICD-10 Testing Coordinators/Coders

On October 14th everyone is going to be live on the ICD-10 billing format. Consider that today there are roughly 4,000 codes for diagnosis and procedure, but once ICD-10 is implemented that number will mushroom to more than 70,000 codes, according to Gaboriault, allowing for a much more in-depth reporting and billing.

"The coders will be responsible for taking all the ICD-9 codes and transferring them over to ICD-10," says Anderson. They'll have a heavy workflow especially when they begin to go live, errors arise and adjustments need to be made.

The coordinators will work with the coders to ensure the new implementations are working correctly and that new codes are mapped to the correct locations.

Annual Average Salary: $65,000 (Coder)

5. HL7/Interface Analyst/ Developer

HL7 is a nonprofit organization that provides a common standard for all healthcare organizations to use to make sure every system implemented can talk to every other system. "It focuses on connecting one health system to another.

In order to make that work, you need a standards-based connection, that's HL7," says Dr. Martin Harris, CIO at the Cleveland Clinic. It's a highly technical and critical point of operation as you move into this space.

"The analyst will look at what's going through HL7 and troubleshoot, identify issues and trends whereas the developers are creating the messages themselves, using languages like cloverleaf and Rhapsody," says Anderson. They build out interface engines allowing the different systems to talk to each other.

Annual Average Salary: $91,000 (Analyst)

Annual Average Salary: $91,000 (Developer)

6. Meaningful Use Business Analyst

Meaningful use is functionality that is specified and required for the AARA funding or what the electronic medical record (EMR) has to do. There is very precise functionality required.

"The Meaningful Use Business Analyst will be looking at the feature functionality that is required in the legislation or rules that have been put forth and translate that to the functionality in all of our various clinical IT systems," says Gaboriault.

These analysts will design, build, implement and report on Meaningful Use objectives for healthcare providers. In order to receive government incentives, healthcare providers are having to attest to meaningful use and these analysts will ensure providers are in compliance.

Meaningful Use Graph Chart

Annual Average Salary: $75,000

7. Clinical Application Trainers

These HIT pros work with analysts and end-users to walk them through the applications they will use. They work both in the classroom and side-by-side with nurses and doctors.

"Once systems go live, the trainers will work elbow to elbow with clinicians to assist them while they treat patients," says Anderson. Gaboriault calls these people his "elbow-to-elbow" support. When new technologies, functionalities or systems are released in a hospital, these trainers take to the floors wearing green vests and are stationed in each area of the hospital. When doctors or nurses turn their head they can see a trainer. Gaboriault says his ratios is high when releasing new systems or functionalities--one trainer to each doctor on a shift. But then, as the time goes by, they phase it out over a four-week period.

"The clinical world is tough front-line. When you make a change to a system, it's important that we have effective change management support for the doctors and nurses on that front-line and the clinical application trainers are the ones who are there to help them make changes in the workflow through tools like the electronic medical records," says Gaboriault.

Annual Average Salary: No Data

What roles do you think are shaping healthcare IT? We'd love to hear your feedback or comments.

Rich Hein is a senior writer for CIO.com. He covers IT careers. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, on Facebook, and on Google +.

*Salary data was provided by Indeed.com.

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