Mark Britnell, Global Lead Partner, Healthcare, KPMG and Shelley Mosley, Associate Partner, Healthcare, IBM. Photo Credit Line: Photos © 2010, Harry Butler, Nashville
Health Care, Technology Councils Address Talent Gap
At the end of September, the Nashville Health Care Council and Nashville Technology Council assembled a panel of experts to lead the Health Care Information Technology Workforce Solutions Forum. The presentation addressed issues facing the industry in the wake of a national push to adopt electronic health records and to increase automation. A panel discussion sought strategies for developing the necessary talent to drive HIT innovation here in Nashville.
The half-day event opened with a keynote address from Mark Britnell, global lead partner for healthcare at KPMG. The London-based speaker said the worldwide health workforce has a shortfall of more than 4 million. Global demand for healthcare continues to increase alongside the population and life expectancy. Increasing financial pressure could be partially offset by gained efficiencies and cost-saving measures. Britnell encouraged forum attendees to “look east” for solutions, where developing countries like China and India are rapidly positioning themselves to use HIT in the delivery of care to their large populations.
While e-health has the potential to resolve some of the capacity and costs issues, the HIT talent gap makes it difficult to fill open positions. “Today in Nashville, there are 897 open IT jobs, many of which are in healthcare,” Nashville Technology Council President Tod Fetherling noted. To effectively fill those seats, Shelley Mosley, associate partner overseeing the healthcare industry for IBM Global Business Services, said to look for a blend of talent including business skills and clinical expertise.
Kyle Duke, information security officer at HealthSpring, noted, “The concept of HIT is changing. The old perception is a barrier.” He, along with other panelists, said fields like healthcare informatics are evolving and are focused on well-rounded professionals with clinical and technology experience rather than the narrow programming field that many associate with HIT.
A cross-section of more than 150 representatives from healthcare industry sectors, professional services firms, university faculty and students, and government agencies participated in moderated table discussions. Groups identified challenges to HIT job development as well as potential solutions and partners for collaboration. Plans call for the data generated from this session to be compiled in aggregate form and published.
A national and global issue, the federal government recently allotted $70 million toward a new training program — the Community College Consortia to Educate Information Technology Specialists in Healthcare — to assist with addressing workforce shortages. Thousands of students are expected to benefit as more than 70 community colleges in five different geographic regions develop six-month, non-degree HIT training programs. The Office of the National Coordinator expects the program will yield more than 10,500 annual HIT professionals by 2012.