Take two hitherto diverse fields such as healthcare and information technology (IT), put them together and create a synergy and you will be left with what is today referred to as "Healthcare IT". Simply put, this new offshoot of the healthcare industry specializes in using the benefits that IT has to offer, to upgrade and improve healthcare facilities across the whole spectrum, be it administrative, clinical, diagnostics, and so on. What do you have to do to get into this exciting, new field? Take a look at some of the important requirements listed here, which will help you make your way into a job in the healthcare IT field.
Typically, Healthcare IT is best suited for professionals who have a background in either healthcare or information technology. Generally, there may be few positions at entry-level, but the prospects greatly improve if you have experience of about a couple of years in either field.
As a Healthcare Professional
Healthcare professionals, from any kind of role in the industry and a certain amount of experience, find it easier to make the transition from their present healthcare role into Healthcare IT. The opportunity is not restricted to doctors or clinicians alone, persons with a background in associated medical services such as nursing, diagnostic testing; record administration, etc can look at making the jump from their current positions into Healthcare IT.
As an IT Professional
If you have put in some time in the IT field and find that mainstream IT roles are on the wane or the market is down on account of recessionary trends, you can make a lateral move from your current IT role into one in the healthcare IT field. The only problem is, nearly everyone else from the IT stream has the same idea, with the result that the competition is very stiff and you will need to prove that you're an exceptional candidate to be hired!
Again, the qualifications required to make it into the healthcare IT field will depend upon your core expertise.
For someone on the clinical/medical side:
- A four-year degree will be the minimum qualification required. Additional qualifications by way of a master's degree or MBA, etc, will definitely boost your chances of being hired.
- Make sure to be current and updated on all accreditations and licenses, which are required for clinical practice.
If you have an IT background:
- A bachelor's or higher degree with primary focus on IT, or a basic degree in science with additional qualifications such as an MS or MIS specialization is preferable.
- Technical accreditations such as Project Management Professional (PMP), Network Administration, System Security, etc, will give an added edge to your CV. Also, remember to keep all such certifications current and updated.
When it comes to temperament or type of personality required to succeed in this field, creative problem solving, lateral thinking, process/detail driven are some of the qualities, which are necessary. It also helps to have a systematic, disciplined and planned approach, when it comes to work, as well as the ability to think and understand issues at both, a micro as well as macro level.
Terminology and "Industry-Speak"
If this is the first-ever time you're hearing about healthcare IT (abbreviated to HIT), here are some of the more commonly used terms and current "hot-button" issues you should get familiar with:
- EMR - Electronic Medical Records
- PHR - Personal Health Records
- HIE - Health Information Exchange
- HIMSS - Healthcare Information&Management Systems Society; this is a recognized body of individual and corporate professionals in the healthcare IT field.
In the news right now, is the new administration's commitment to providing ‘meaningful' healthcare reform and a big part of this initiative is the comprehensive use of healthcare IT to make the reforms a reality. Another issue, which is growing more popular as healthcare reforms and innovations gather steam, is that of ‘telemedicine' - using technology to remote-manage patient care, both critical and non-critical, diagnostics and monitoring of essential health indicators, etc. Telemedicine represents a huge save on infrastructure and resources, which are limited and one of the main reasons, why healthcare is in such a mess today. Imagine your physician monitoring the health and care of a critically ill member of your family, without having the patient being admitted to a healthcare facility or hospice!
Now that you have a fair idea of what healthcare IT is all about and how you can be a part of this exciting, new field in healthcare, why not get started with an online IT degree, ramp up your CV, and ‘HIT' the bull's eye with a job in healthcare IT!