Three reasons to consider a health care IT career

Three Reasons to Consider Taking That Health Care IT Job

According to 2010-2020 employment projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the health care industry should see 33 percent growth, up to 5.7 million new jobs. In fact, eight of the 20 fastest growing careers are in the health care field, including personal care aides, home health aides, occupational therapy assistants and medical secretaries.

One sub-sector, health care information technology, is particularly poised to grow over the coming years. For example, research from BCC Research projects the global telemedicine market could grow to $27.3 billion by 2016. A central reason behind this growth is two-fold: the adoption of new health care legislation in the U.S. and the journey of the health care system from paper to electronic records.

The move to adopt electronic medical records technology

A goal of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was to reduce the paperwork and administrative burden within the health care industry. The law introduced a number of changes to achieve this goal, including the introduction, adoption and implementation of electronic medical records (EMR) by health care professionals and health plans alike.

One component, the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI) was designed to encourage health care professionals to make the transition to EMR. For example, eligible medical professionals could receive a $44,000 incentive to adopt EMR technology through the Medicare Electronic Health Records Incentive Program. Under PPACA, the overall bonus pool is estimated at $27 billion to help finance the health care industry's move to electronic medical records.

As clinicians, hospitals and medical professionals begin the transition to EMR, more focus is expected on the health information technology (HIT) field.

The medical records and health information technician

Medical professionals, from the floor nurse to the heart surgeon, depend on a smoothly running HIT infrastructure to keep records in order, schedules on track, and patient progress moving forward. A key player in the maintaining and movement of this information is the medical records and health information technician. These individuals are typically responsible for managing health information data, protecting its quality and security, making it accessible through both traditional paper and newer electronic forms.

Job growth in this field is expected to surpass the national average for all occupations between 2010 and 2010, according to the BLS. This growth - 21 percent nationally - is expected to be spurred by the previously mentioned adoption of electronic records as well as a rapidly aging population, a population that is expected to require more medical care in the coming decade.

Transitioning to a health care IT career

If you are a current IT professional looking for a more interesting work environment or just a change of pace, health care IT is a growing industry that continues to present new opportunities each year. Here are three reasons to consider transitioning to a career in health care IT.

1. Diverse field of potential career areas. Careers in the health care information technology sector are not limited to medical records or health information technicians. Potential careers could be found in areas such as the following:

  • Risk management
  • Compliance
  • IT & infrastructure
  • Coding and billing
  • Data analysis
  • Communication & patient education

2. Translation of skills. Experience in other work environments - such as corporate offices or tech startups - may provide a fresh perspective on some of the new technology being implemented in health care. Technical skills often translate across business units and can find application within the health care IT environment.

3. Job openings. The BLS also predicts that the health care and social assistance industry could create up to 28 percent of the all the new jobs in the U.S. between 2010 and 2020. That bodes well for professionals seeking to enter the field.

As you ponder on a possible career change, continued professional development remains important.

"The key is to focus on continuing professional development from a holistic view," notes executive vice president of Cyrus Innovation, Debbie Madden. "Things like attending industry events and reading books are vital to staying on top of the game."

Network with other health care IT professionals or and remain up-to-date on developments in health care tech. The more you're able to integrate this overall knowledge base into your work, the better equipped you should be when it comes time to interview for that new job.

Ben Thomas writes about careers in Health Information Technology, among other career fields, for

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