HIE Staffing Positions Difficult to Fill


As health information organizations (HIOs) continue to mature and evolve, current staffing requirements must be studied to recruit and maintain professional talent.

This is the finding of a new study jointly published by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and HIMSS, “Trends in HIE Organizational Staffing: A Deeper Look at Staffing Challenges.” Survey participants offered insight into hiring practices for key health IT and health information management (HIM) roles within health information organizations (HIOs).

“As healthcare organizations become increasingly interconnected through health information exchange, it’s important for the industry to understand how to operate health information exchanges for best results,” said AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, MBA, RHIA, CAE, FACHE, FAHIMA. “This survey will provide valuable insights for those who work in organizations that benefit from sharing health information.”

The 2014 survey focused on three types of positions–related to issues of connectivity, data integrity, and data integration–that were identified as difficult positions to fill. Key findings from the survey include:

  • Growing diversity and range of participants such as payers, behavioral health centers, nursing homes and accountable care organizations
  • A shift away from HIOs existing as public entities and toward public/private organizations
  • The three focus areas of connectivity, data integrity and data integration can refer to a wide range of job titles and responsibilities across HIO operations
  • Some job titles are fluid across two roles such as Database Administrator, Interface Engineer and Project or Implementation Manager
  • Education requirements for these roles were generally at the bachelor’s or master’s degree levels, with preference for Computer Science, Health IT, Telecommunications or HIPAA/Security concentrations
  • Compensation for the three roles targeted in the 2014 survey was slightly higher than the salary ranges identified for all IT roles in the 2012 survey
  • The top ongoing challenges in staffing include cost of living and location of HIO; industry competition for qualified candidates; competitive salary and benefits; and finding individuals with appropriate skill sets.  The HIE organization positions reported to have the highest rates of turnover were Data Administrator, HIE Implementation Manager, HIE Project Manager and Physician Liaison
  • Respondents continue to use a combination of staffing approaches ranging from full-time and part-time employees to consultants and contractors
  • Referrals are still the primary method for identifying HIE technology candidates, though additional sources such as external searches, recruiting firms and industry conferences or events were referenced by several participants

“With the continuous demand for qualified employees in healthcare settings, this updated research can help guide hiring managers and educate potential candidates interested in careers focused on connectivity, data integrity and data integration in an HIE setting,” said Carla Smith, MA, CNM, FHIMSS, Executive Vice President, HIMSS North America. “The research also may lead professionals in healthcare or other fields to consider a career path in health IT based on current needs in the marketplace.”

Access the 2014 report through HIMSS and AHIMA. For additional discussion on this topic, join the conversation in the HIMSS LinkedIn group and the AHIMA LinkedIn group.

The report is a follow-up to a 2012 survey also jointly published by AHIMA and HIMSS, “Trends in HIE Organizational Staffing: AHIMA/HIMSS Staffing Model Environmental Scan.”

Learn more about the research on the HIMSS Blog with a post from HIMSS and AHIMA.

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) represents more than 71,000 educated health information management and health informatics professionals in the United States and around the world. AHIMA is committed to promoting and advocating for high quality research, best practices and effective standards in health information and to actively contributing to the development and advancement of health information professionals worldwide. AHIMA’s enduring goal is quality healthcare through quality information. www.ahima.org

HIMSS is a global, cause-based, not-for-profit organization focused on better health through information technology (IT). HIMSS leads efforts to optimize health engagements and care outcomes using information technology. HIMSS is a cause-based, global enterprise producing health IT thought leadership, education, events, market research and media services around the world. Founded in 1961, HIMSS encompasses more than 52,000 individuals, of which more than two-thirds work in healthcare provider, governmental and not-for-profit organizations across the globe, plus over 600 corporations and 250 not-for-profit partner organizations, that share this cause. HIMSS, headquartered in Chicago, serves the global health IT community with additional offices in the United States, Europe, and Asia.