HIMSS: Staffing shortages replace money concerns as main health IT barrier

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The Big Meeting - 15.89 Kb

LAS VEGAS—For the first time in more than a decade, staffing shortages overtook concerns over lack of adequate financial support as the No. 1 barrier to implementing IT in this year’s 23rd annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) leadership survey. The results, released Feb. 21 at HIMSS12, include the input of 302 healthcare IT professionals who represent more than 600 U.S. hospitals.

So what are the top 10 IT staffing needs? Clinical application support topped the list, followed by network and architecture support, clinical informatics, system integration, IT security, clinical transformation, database administration, PC and server support, process and workflow and system design/implementation.

It also came as little surprise that some 61 percent of the health IT leaders surveyed expect to increase their staff in 2012; only 5 percent expect a staffing decrease. Some 6 percent of respondents indicated their staff would increase by more than 20 percent in 2012, 17 percent are targeting a 10 to 20 percent increase, while 38 percent believe the increase to be less than 10 percent.

Of those respondents expecting staffing increases this year, approximately 14 percent report plans to add more than 10 IT full-time equivalents (FTEs), 7 percent plan to add six to 10 IT FTEs, 25 percent have budgeted to add three to five FTEs and 37 percent said their organization has budgeted to add one or two IT FTEs. Another 14 percent reported that the IT FTEs they plan to add to their organization were not budgeted for this year.

The panel presenting the data—which included H. Stephen Lieber, CAE, president and CEO of HIMSS, Charlene S. Underwood, MBA, board chair at HIMSS and senior director, government and industry affairs at Siemens Healthcare, Kay M. Hix, CIO and vice president at Carilion Clinic, Susan A. Heichert, senior vice president and CIO, Allina Hospital & Clinics, and Todd Richardson, CIO of Deaconess Health System—also noted salaries are on the rise due to greater competition among health systems, healthcare providers, vendors and consulting companies for similar and vital personnel to drive the increase in technology implementation and optimization.

Fueled in part by the need to expand the number of FTEs to meet the growing number of systems and technologies in place, IT leaders expect their operating budgets to grow in 2012.

According to the 2011 HIMSS Analytics Database, U.S. hospital IT departments employed an average of 36 IT FTEs. Overall operating budgets are up, said 56 percent of health leaders—a bump of 10 percentage points over 2011’s survey. Another 20 percent said budgets will probably increase. Only 7 percent expect a budget decrease.