Taking Your Tech Skills to Healthcare

By Leigh Goessl

If you have been working in technology you probably already have heard there is a high demand for IT professionals. As organizations steadily become more digitized, skilled technical employees are needed to fill a variety of roles. Healthcare is one industry looking to add IT talents.

Forecasts indicate healthcare is anticipated to zoom, with an increase of 15.6 million jobs by 2022, and trends strongly suggest techs will be actively sought to go along for the ride. Additionally, legislation such as the Affordable Care Act has contributed to the need for more tech in healthcare.

Many experienced techs can easily apply their skills to the industry.

Tech Skills

"The vast majority of the job types that we see are easily transferable into healthcare, meaning they're not healthcare-specific," says Douglas Paulo, vice president Center of Excellence and IT Product Group leader of Kelly Services, Inc., adding, "For the most part, the activity is the same."

For instance, professionals proficient in areas such as network administration/engineering, help desk, cyber security, mobile applications and business intelligence are just some of the skills easily transferred. 

However, people who already have worked within healthcare systems are attractive to organizations. They often seek people with experience and understanding of industry processes, along with skills in specific software programs and types of databases. (For example, Epic is a popular healthcare system, so familiarity would be a plus). 

"A lot of people that I see have started already in the healthcare field. You see people progressing through their career within the environment," says Paulo, noting people often start in entry-level positions and then advance. He adds tacit knowledge is "so important" to healthcare facilities.

Is lack of healthcare experience a challenge for those coming in from other industries? Possibly. But networking with peers already working in healthcare, learning how a specific facility works and attending conferences to enhance knowledge of the industry can help get a foot in the door. 

"Once you've gotten into the industry and you've built some knowledge around that particular [job you want], then your ability to move within the industry is a lot higher," suggests Paulo.

He notes while employers know a candidate may not necessarily be familiar with their exact implementation, previous exposure at a health organization provides a stronger foundation. 

"You already have more of a base for them to onboard you in than somebody that's coming in cold into the industry," says Paulo. 

Health informatics is a rapidly growing segment which links IT and communications to healthcare. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported health information technicians held 186,300 jobs in 2012. This number is expected to soar 22 percent by 2022. 

"It's a huge term. The reason why it's huge is because it deals with all of the resources, devices and methods to acquire information about somebody's health," says Paulo. He notes a "big push for standardization of health records," further illustrating a need for IT talent. In 2014, Kelly Services employed more than 400 IT healthcare positions in the DC region.

According to job listing information given by the University of Maryland University College, the Washington D.C. Metro area ranks second in the nation for IT management and eighth for healthcare. The opportunities are there and a marriage between tech and healthcare makes perfect sense.

The key is to determine where you want to be and then proactively plan. The more familiarized with healthcare, the better the chance to land that desired job.

Leigh Goessl is a freelance writer who covers topics about business, technology, careers, education and travel. Reach her @LeighGoessl

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