IT professionals to see jump in starting salaries in 2011

October 12, 2010 | Molly Merrill, Associate Editor, healthcareITnews

MENLO PARK, CA – Information technology professionals in the United States can expect starting salaries to increase an average of 3.4 percent in 2011, according to the Robert Half Technology Salary Guide 2011.

The healthcare industry is forecasted to see a particularly strong demand for IT professionals in the next year.

“We’ve seen a strong demand for IT professionals, from developers to help desk, to assist with the conversion to electronic medical records,” said John Reed, executive director of Robert Half Technology.

Robert Half Technology is a provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis. The annual salary survey is based on an in-depth analysis of the thousands of job placements managed by the company’s U.S. offices. Since compensation varies by geographic region, the Salary Guide provides regional variance data to help hiring managers adjust starting salaries for their specific markets.

According to the Salary Guide, web designers will see the greatest starting salary gains of any job classification in 2011, with base compensation expected to rise 5.5 percent, to between $50,750 and $83,000  annually.

“With social media being closely tied to an organization’s success, there is strong demand for skilled web designers who can create customer friendly web experiences,” said Reed. 

Currently only 10.3 percent of hospitals are engaged in social media, but analysts say they will account for the greatest growth in social media by 2014.

“If your audience is in the social spaces, then you need to be there too,” Shel Holtz, principal of Holtz Communications advised hospital executives at a Web seminar hosted by CareTech Solutions this summer. “If you don’t have content there, then you fundamentally don’t exist for most of those people.”

Other key findings from the Robert Half Technology Salary Guide 2011 are:

  • Base compensation for ERP technical developers – who tailor ERP software for their organizations – is projected to increase 5.2 percent next year, to a range of $79,250 to $109,500. 
  • Average starting salaries for business intelligence analysts will rise 5 percent, to the range of $82,500 to $116,250 annually.
  • Data modelers can expect base compensation in the range of $80,750 to $111,250, a gain of 4.5 percent over 2010.
  • Network managers will see average starting salaries rise 4.3 percent, to the range of $79,250 to $109,500 per year.
  • Base compensation for IT auditors will increase 4.2 percent, with starting salaries of $77,750 to $108,000 annually, on average. 

“A focus on improving efficiency, managing assets and securing data has increased the demand, and base compensation for IT professionals with ERP and security credentials,” added Reed.

Posted in HIT. Comments Off on IT professionals to see jump in starting salaries in 2011

CIO survey forecasts IT staffing troubles ahead

October 06, 2010 | Bernie Monegain, Editor, Healthcare IT News

PHOENIX – In West Texas, where unemployment is at 2 percent, the popular chain Chili’s had to close some of its restaurants because there were not enough employees to fill the jobs. Imagine what it’s like for a healthcare system in that part of the country to recruit IT staff, says Gary L. Barnes, CIO of Medical Center Health System in Odessa, Texas.

Barnes served as moderator of a panel on IT staffing shortages Wednesday at the CHIME10 Fall CIO Forum in Phoenix. He was not alone in worrying about staff shortages. The four-member panel – from Maryland, New York, Massachusetts and Tennessee – shared similar concerns. To boot, a new CHIME survey released Wednesday revealed that 51 percent of CIOs across the country are worried they will have to put off planned implementation of electronic health record systems if they don’t find the people to get the job done.

That would mean forfeiting thousands of dollars in government stimulus funds aimed at encouraging the uptake and meaningful use of EHRs.

CHIME surveyed its members in September to assess the potential impact of staffing shortages on IT operations. Industry insiders have estimated a need for 50,000 new jobs. A total of 182 CIOs, about a third of the CHIME membership, responded to the survey.

“I think it’s a local challenge for many of us,” said George T. (Buddy) Hickman, executive vice president and CIO at Albany Medical Center in Albany, N.Y. There’s competition among the healthcare systems in the region for IT help, he said.

Sometimes outside competition is able to offer higher salaries, said Mike Ward, senior vice president and CIO at Covenant Health System, a seven-hospital system in East Tennessee.

Sue Schade, vice president and CIO at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, part of Partners Healthcare said recruiting is different at Brigham and Women’s because the hospital has an in-house built system. So she can’t simply tap someone with Epic or Meditech experience, for instance.

“It’s a very different ballgame,” she said.

Douglas Abel, vice president and CIO of Anne Arundel Health System in Annapolis, Md., said losing a staff member is more difficult when the team is small. The loss of one IT team member from a 50-member staff is felt much more strongly than, say, the loss on a 200-member staff, he said. There are not enough healthcare IT job seekers in the pipeline.

“We’re running scared right now,” Abel said.

Schade commiserated. “A small organization can’t absorb turnovers,” she said. “Once they have those openings, they have nowhere to go.”

Hickman said the situation is complicated and intensified by ARRA and HITECH, with a large demand for converting to digital now that is likely to diminish later.

“Already I’m thinking how do we manage the attrition of that.”

Key findings

More than 60 percent of responding CIOs reported that IT staffing deficiencies would possibly (51 percent) or definitely (10 percent) affect their chances to implement an EHR and receive stimulus funding.

CIOs expressed growing concern about retaining existing staff as pressures mount to quickly implement clinical systems.

More than 70 percent of respondents reported their organizations lacked staff to implement clinical applications.

CIOs reported they would used a variety of strategies to meet immediate needs, especially the hiring of third-party consultants, also hiring from within and train for health IT work, and tapping recruiters for help.

Slightly more than half of the CIOs responding said they would request budget increases to address the shortages, but for most respondents, spending increases are expected to be minimal in 2011.

The most commonly mentioned approaches for staff retention included flexible work schedules, telecommuting, employee recognition programs and training, education and development.

Reprinted courtesy of Healthcare IT News: News,0

Posted in HIT. Comments Off on CIO survey forecasts IT staffing troubles ahead

AHIMA’s Virtual Health Information Technology Lab

AHIMA’s Virtual Health Information Technology Lab
In 2006, AHIMA launched its Virtual Lab, an internet-based software lab designed for health information management (HIM) education. Featuring multiple software applications and corresponding lab lessons, the Virtual Lab is an affordable solution for bringing health information technology software to the classroom, and has over 200 subscribing colleges and universities.

Program Facts

  • The Virtual Lab program includes access to various health information software and corresponding lessons.
  • Designed for use in online or on-campus learning environments.
    • Minimal IT requirements for the user’s PC to reduce setup time and costs for the school.
  • Designed specifically for use in HIM academic programs,and also available for other allied health programs, HIM workforce training, and continuing education.
  • Virtual Lab maintenance and customer support are included in the enrollment fee.
    • No additional hardware is required for system maintenance and/or hosting.
  • Instructor training is offered online at no charge.
    • Face-to-face training opportunities are available at nominal costs.
    • Lesson and instructor resources are available through an online lesson repository.
  • School enrollment fees are based on number of students.

Virtual Lab Applications
The Virtual Lab includes a variety of critical HIM software applications. Each application is based on a commercially available product, and has been customized or configured for optimal experiential learning.

ATHENS/Cerner PowerChart and HIM ProFile applications
This electronic health record (EHR) system, designed specifically for academic use, includes more than 20 simulated hospital cases or charts. Lessons direct students in basic navigation of the electronic chart. Users can build their own “play patients,” allowing them to explore clinical and management tools and functions in the EHR, and build knowledge and skills in clinical information systems. This system also explores:

  • Patient registration
  • Clinical documentation tools and processes—
    • order entry
    • narrative and structured documents tools
  • Clinical decision support tools (alerts and reminders)
  • Deficiency management
  • ROI’s
  • Electronic Chart Tracking
  • Legal Concepts

QuadraMed MPI Suite
The MPI software suite is for use in patient identity management and duplicate record management, and in maintaining database integrity. The database includes more than 50,000 patient demographic records, with approximately 5,000 potential duplicate sets. QuadraMed Smart ID is used for patient registration and prevention of duplicate records, while SmartMerge provides tools for duplicate management, including analysis and duplicate cleanup. Lessons explore the following topics and tools in the software:

  • Front-end registration
  • Tools for analysis of data integrity
  • Tools for resoliving duplicate records
  • Duplicate management workflows and issues
  • Virtual management tools

QuadraMed Quantim Encoders (ICD-9 and ICD-10)
This knowledge-based encoder software includes ICD-9 and ICD-10 diagnostic and procedure codebooks, CPT and HCPCS codebooks, and reimbursement groupers. Students can access extensive coding and general references, such as a medical dictionary, a drug reference guide, and anatomy illustrations, and can gain familiarity with encoder software tools and the resources they provide. The package includes:

  • Encoder for coding practice
  • Coding references
  • Abstracting and compliance software
  • Coded data set

3M Coding and Reimbursement System (ICD-9 and ICD-10)
3M’s decision-based encoder software provides students with access to ICD-9 and ICD-10 diagnostic codebooks and procedure codebooks, CPT and HCPCS codebooks, and reimbursement groupers, and includes extensive coding and general references (a medical dictionary, a drug reference guide, and anatomy illustrations). Students gain familiarity with encoder software tools and the resources they provide. The 3M package includes:

  • Encoder for coding practice
  • DRG grouper for reimbursement concepts
  • Extensive coding reference

McKesson Horizon Patient Folder
Horizon Patient Folder is a document imaging system for managing health records that gives physicians, HIM personnel and other hospital staff anytime, anywhere access to review, analyze, code and complete electronic charts in their electronic medical records system. It allows HIM departments to become “virtual”, giving staff the ability to work remotely while letting authorized hospital personnel view patient records electronically. With student work queues set up for deficiency management and chart analysis activities, this creates a unique practice environment for students.

Lessons provide students with opportunity to:

  • Analyze charts for common “deficiencies”
    • Missing signatures
    • Missing text or dictation
    • Missing or misfiled documents
  • Learn how software tools are used to identify and manage deficiencies

HealthPort EDMS (Electronic Document Management System)
This document imaging system provides the main chart repository for the Virtual Lab.  The system includes over 300 patient encounters, and provides a flexible resource available for use in coding exercises, chart analysis, general orientation to the forms and indexing in the medical record, etc.  Chart indexing makes it easy for instructors to select charts by patient type or coding category.

HealthPort ROI (eSmartLog and SmartLink)
This HealthPort suite allows students to log and analyze release of patient information requests online. Requests and corresponding charts from the Virtual Lab chart repository are reviewed, and the student can submit their “assignments” (documents they determine can be released, based on the request) electronically to their instructor via SmartLink. Specially configured for academic use, the system and corresponding lessons provide students with exposure to key concepts in ROI.

Included is a trial copy of Tableau’s data visioning and analysis software, along with practice data sets and a training webcast developed for HIM students.

Continuing Development
The Virtual Lab’s applications and exercises will continue to be developed as new software becomes available, and/or as changes in the external environment result in changes in HIM practice.

Contact Us
For more information about subscribing to AHIMA’s Virtual Lab, please contact Sandra Kersten at (312) 233-1193, or send an e-mail to

To view a short simulation of AHIMA’s Virtual Lab log on to:

Posted in HIT. Comments Off on AHIMA’s Virtual Health Information Technology Lab

A Milestone for Vocabulary Resources: The Vocabulary Task Force of the HIT Standards Committee

September 29, 2010 | By John Halamka, MD, CIO, CareGroup Health System, Harvard Medical School

The Vocabulary Task Force of the HIT Standards Committee is hard at work specifying the vocabularies and codesets that should be publicly available to accelerate certification and meaningful use efforts.

Today, Kaiser Permanente announced the donation of its Convergent Medical Terminology (CMT) to the International Healthcare Terminology Standards Development Organisation (IHTSDO©) for U.S. distribution through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) so that all health care providers—large and small—can benefit from the translation-enabling technology.

This donation makes the results of years of work at Kaiser Permanente available to help U.S. health professionals and hospitals achieve key meaningful use standards set forth by the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The donation includes:

1.  Over 75,000 extensions to existing vocabularies (new concepts, natural language descriptions for clinicians and patient friendly terms)
2.  Derivative works (crossmaps of vocabularies to each other)
3.  Toolkits for collaborative editing

In addition to the Kaiser donation, below is a guide to other freely available resources, such as crossmaps from SNOMED CT to ICD-9-CM and ICD-10-CM.

The CM versions used in the US (produced by the National Center for Health Statistics, CDC)  are different from the basic ICD-9 and ICD-10 as released by the World Health Organization. There is a project to map SNOMED CT to the basic ICD-10 that is being undertaken by the International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation (IHTSDO), which is the owner of SNOMED CT.

SNOMED CT to ICD-9-CM  – There are two free mappings from SNOMED CT to ICD-10-CM, a basic “conceptual” mapping which is released with SNOMED CT (free to all US users under the UMLS license) and a draft rule-based mapping for the reimbursement use case. The rule-based map includes IF-THEN rules for selecting the appropriate ICD-9-CM code for a condition in those cases when a SNOMED CT concept could map to more than one ICD-9-CM entry. For example, in order to select the appropriate ICD-9-CM code for infertility, you must look elsewhere in the patient’s record to determine whether the patient is male or female. Having received modest feedback on the draft mapping, the next step is to produce a current rule-based map that covers all entries in the SNOMED CT CORE problem list subset, which we hope to complete by early 2011.

SNOMED CT to ICD-10-CM – NLM is currently inserting ICD-10-CM into the UMLS Metathesaurus, which will create the synonymous mappings between SNOMED CT and ICD-10-CM. When this step has been completed (by November 2010), we will work on a rule-based mapping between the SNOMED CT CORE Problem list subset and ICD-10-CM. This should become available in later in 2011.

All of the above information refers to mappings of diagnoses and conditions – not procedures.

For completeness, access to DRG and Medicare/Medicaid data resources is described below.

The “GROUPER” program, used by Medicare associates ICD-9-CM codes with specific “diagnosis-related” codes. These codes, previously called “DRGs” (“diagnosis-related groups”) are now properly called Medicare Severity Diagnosis Related Groups (MS-DRGs). The GROUPER logic, which was developed and is maintained by 3M/Health Information Systems, is updated annually as part of the regulatory update process required for Medicare Inpatient Prospective Payment System.

The software for the GROUPER is distributed for a fee from NTIS. The complete documentation of the GROUPER logic/Definitions Manual is distributed for a fee from 3M.

Medicare or Medicaid data is available for research from CMS’s Research Data Assistance Center (“ResDAC”), which is a CMS contractor that provides free assistance to academic, government and non-profit researchers interested in using Medicare and/or Medicaid data for their research. ResDAC is staffed by a consortium of epidemiologists, public health specialists, health services researchers, biostatisticians, and health informatics specialists from the University of Minnesota. Please see the ResDAC website for more information.

 John Halamka, MD blogs regularly at Life as a Healthcare CIO.

Posted in HIT. Comments Off on A Milestone for Vocabulary Resources: The Vocabulary Task Force of the HIT Standards Committee

Big growth projected for HIS market

Reprinted courtesy of Mike Miliard, Managing Editor, Healthcare IT News (June 2010)

NEW YORK – The worldwide market for Hospital Information Systems (HIS) is positioned for significant growth in the coming years, according to a new study from GlobalData. 

The global market is forecast to exceed $18 billion by 2016, after growing at a compound annual rate of 13 percent from its $7.8 billion valuation in 2009.

That growth is primarily driven by hospitals that stand to receive government reimbursements, as they try to improve care and increase workflow efficiency with information technology. Overall, the study shows, hospitals strongly believe that adopting HIS will greatly increase efficiency and reduce medical errors, thus improving quality of care.

The electronic medical records (EMR) segment is by far the largest segment in the HIS market – valued at $3.4 billion in 2009 and expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.3 percent over the next seven years.

Practice management is the second largest segment, valued at $1.2 billion in 2009 and growing at a CAGR of 10.8 percent over the same period. Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE), Pharmacy Information Systems (PIS) and Laboratory Information Systems (LIS) are projected to grow at a CAGR of 12.1 percent, 9.7 percent and 10.6 percent respectively.

Evidence has increasingly shown that the current hospital systems are not delivering sufficiently safe, high-quality, efficient and cost-effective healthcare, and that computerization, with EMR at the center, is effectively the only way forward, according to the study.

As a result the past decade has seen the political impetus for change in most western countries become stronger, with physicians and healthcare organizations around the world looking to adopt more EMR technologies and major companies in the market vying for various collaborations to reach office-based physicians.

Governments in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and Finland are implementing plans to build integrated computer-based national healthcare infrastructures based around the deployment of interoperable EMR systems. Many of these countries aim to have EMR systems deployed for their populations within the next 10 years.

The HIS market in the United States was valued at $2.6 billion in 2009 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 19.3 percent over the next seven years. Economic stimulus provided by ARRA – the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – is expected to increase the adoption rates to 90 percent for physicians and 70 percent for hospitals in the United States.

GE and Siemens are the two leading companies in the hospital information systems market, together accounting for roughly a quarter of the total space. GE Healthcare is the market leader, with 13 percent of market share, followed by Siemens Healthcare and Cerner Corp. with 12 percent and 9 percent respectively.

Posted in CTE, HIT. Comments Off on Big growth projected for HIS market