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The Evolution of Health Information Technology

The Evolution of Health Information Technology
Image by Sergey Nivens via Shutterstock


Over the past few decades health information technology has played an increasingly vital role in the evolution of healthcare.

Changes in medical costs, the economy, and aging baby boomers continue to have exponentially greater effects on the healthcare field. Now more than ever, healthcare companies and facilities are relying on more information to make smarter decisions and position themselves for the future. With the rapidly changing industry and employment environment, healthcare organizations are increasingly relying on big data and information technology to dictate and guide how they should go about setting themselves up for future success.

While the healthcare industry scrambles to figure out how to make medical care more accessible and affordable, they are also discovering that the aging generation can now expect to live well into their eighties which means that the levels of care that will be required have never been seen before, and healthcare organizations need to find a way to combat this rising problem. The world has never seen or had to care for patients at levels as seen in the baby boomer generation. In the US alone, there is an estimated 74 million baby boomer Americans. Everybody ages at some point and needs some kind of care one way or another, and the baby boomer generation is no different.

In addition, the healthcare industry is already facing a massive healthcare talent shortage, well before the baby boomer generation retirement is in full swing. We're on the verge of the problem and it's already really bad. This all means that the industry is facing major changes moving forward and turning to healthcare information technology to help solve the challenges ahead.

The field has started to shift the way it addresses and stores data for organizations’ patient portals, which is good news for students and people currently in the job market. The reason for this is due to the increased legislation and consumer demand for enhanced security when it comes to private user information and healthcare medical records. This means that healthcare organizations and facilities need to find qualified professionals who not only know how the security and information technology landscape is changing, but also have the skills to implement new tools and technology that will safeguard their patients' and employee information.

In addition, healthcare organizations and facilities are willing to spend millions of dollars in protection and technology investments to ensure that their facility is on the cutting edge of this new wave of healthcare information technology safeguards because it helps reduce the potential financial risk or litigation exposure they might incur from potential data breaches. The healthcare industry has seen an increasing number of attacks and data breaches, which make it more critical than ever for healthcare organizations and facilities to recruit and implement revised healthcare information technology strategies.

Healthcare organizations cannot sit idly by and hope that their existing information technology infrastructure is good enough for the future, as they open themselves up to potential government fines and consumer lawsuits.

Another way that the healthcare industry is rapidly changing and needs to quickly evolve using information technology is the speed at which decisions need to be made. Now more than ever, healthcare organizations are seeking ways to improve patient care numbers, increase revenue, increase patient retention, and cut down on costs. All of those things are possible through better forms of care and reduced downtime.

Information technology can significantly advance the speed at which decisions are made, identify potential cost cutting methods, implement time saving methods, personalize care more efficiently to increase patient retention, and ultimately increase revenue in the long run.

Information technology isn't just impacting the healthcare industry, it's shaping nearly every industry around the globe. For those job seekers who are looking to position themselves for the future and secure their career, working in information technology in the healthcare industry is one of the most stable prospects you can consider. Obtaining a specialized degree that allows you to use your knowledge of coding, technology, and entering the medical industry is looking to be one of the more secure ways to delve into the healthcare industry and start a successful career, without spending nearly a decade obtaining your post-secondary credentials.

Health Information Technology and the Future

With the rapid advancement in technology, especially the healthcare industry, new job fields are being created and current positions and workers are constantly changing roles and techniques they use to perform their job. There has never been a better time to consider working in a STEM role in the healthcare industry, as they increasingly become a more prominent figure and play a key role in the way the industry moves forward towards the future.

As a healthcare professional, or anyone interested in getting into the field, it is vital to keep up to date on potentially available hospital jobs. What may surprise you are the new ways technology has opened doors for IT jobs for medical professionals.

Since providers are now aiming to digitize records and patient information, the need for professionals to protect and secure the enormous amount of data is huge. Nearly every organization is attempting to cut down on their hardcopy and paper documents to save both the environment, and space. An extra closet that isn't being used to store medical records is another potential room that a patient could receive care and cut down on waiting times.

Healthcare providers also now need individuals to manage and implement plans to better serve patients. For instance, data analysis is a great way for healthcare IT professionals to identify potential ways that they could cut down on waiting room times and help patients receive care faster than ever. More information is being tracked than in years past, which means that there is more information to act upon. Information technologists who examine this data can identify potential ways that they can better serve patients and then present those findings to the right hospital administrators and key decision-makers.

Another way that the future of the healthcare industry will change through new information technology is through the rapid advancement of machine learning and machine learning algorithms. Machine learning is one of the best ways that the healthcare industry could see rapid advancement in the near-term. Machine learning allows for healthcare organizations, facilities, and IT professionals to follow strict rules and make data-based predictions. Healthcare professionals and administrators will then use those predictions to make informed decisions.

Over time, the machine learning algorithm continually improves it's formula to become more reliable and provide even more information in the future. In an age where information is king in the healthcare industry, machine learning algorithms developed by healthcare IT professionals will rapidly shape the industry in the future.

The next way that healthcare information technology is going to rapidly change in the future is the way in which healthcare organizations and healthcare professionals communicate with their patients. One of the biggest barriers to treating patients and then following-up with them about their care are the communication barriers that often arise. Many Americans don't visit a hospital or healthcare facility until there is something wrong, and then by then it's often too late. This means that the patient is severely impacting their ability to prevent something early on before it becomes too much of a problem due to their lack of communication and consistent visits with their primary care physician.

One way that healthcare information technology is going to rapidly change that in the future is through improved communication. Whether it's new software applications in the hospital, or mobile communication platforms that healthcare professionals use, new technology is rapidly shaping how healthcare organizations interact with and follow-up with their patients on a recurring basis. Instead of only interacting with their patients once every couple months or years, healthcare professionals can interact with and follow-up with their patients with a few simple clicks of an app on their phone.

This means that communicating with patients doesn't have to be some long and complicated process and patient retention rates will rise because they're getting more individualized care.

The next way that healthcare information technology will rapidly change the healthcare industry is the advancement of augmented reality. Augmented reality is quickly changing how healthcare professionals are trained and learn crucial skills. In an industry that is as technically challenging and requires extensive experience like the healthcare industry, augmented reality that is being developed by information technology specialists will rapidly improve care outcomes and reduce training expenses in the future.

Top Healthcare Information Technology Jobs

Now that we've outlined some of the ways that the healthcare industry will be shaped by health information technology, we've also outlined some of the hottest jobs in health information technology (click the job titles to view job openings:

1. Chief Information Security Officer

These senior professionals protect information systems from malicious hackers, agents, and criminals looking to steal information for personal gain. The Chief Information Security Officers are the top of the line healthcare professionals and administrators who dictate all of the data security policies, information technology structure around security, and manage individual teams ensure safety compliance. Chief Information Security Officers are also responsible for making sure that all the relevant departments only have the information they need to do their job.

For instance, a janitor doesn't need access to the security database with all the patient's personal information. This means that CSIOs need to know who needs the information, and why they need the information to dictate what security measures need to be established and safeguarded. In addition to those responsibilities, CSIOs are in charge of the top-down investigations into potential security breaches, fraud investigations, and computer forensics to determine potential breaches and security issues.

Compromised patient records and insurance information can lead to a disaster for healthcare facilities, translating into more demand for these positions. It also means that there is plenty of upward mobility for those healthcare professionals and information technologists who have entered the ground floor working in the industry as an IT professional.

Professionals in this field also address internal procedures that protect private health information, combat potential intruders via white hat hacking, and implement and maintain new security measures to ensure the barriers between patient information and thieves is as strong as possible.

According to PayScale, the average salary for Chief Information Security Officers is between $103,000 to $222,000.

2. Chief Health Information Officer

This role is seen as more administrative than clinically focused, but has defined itself as an emerging role in the healthcare industry. These professionals audit data that is collected from the hospital systems and determine how it should be analyzed. Analyzing the data increases the potential impact on patient intervention and strives to achieve more value for the organization. The Chief Health Information officer is responsible for ensuring the quality of the information technology that is in place to review a patient's health and medical operations.

Another key responsibility for Chief Health Information Officers is to also train and educate other healthcare professionals on how they can go about using the technology properly, some of the key application benefits, and more. Essentially, CHIOs are responsible for making sure that everyone is keenly aware of the technology they have at their disposal, the education on how to use the software suite, and identify potential application uses that they could benefit from in the future.

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for Chief Health Information Officers is $262,000.

3. Vice President of Accountable Care Organization

It is important to consider that while hospitals and clinics are entering an agreement and protecting their data, organizations will need senior level management to handle these contracts. This VP role will handle risk mitigation, contract negotiations, population health management, and will work towards improving the care delivery. Overall, this is a management role that ensures the contracts that they negotiate will lead to more efficient healthcare delivery.

This is a vital role to make sure that the healthcare organization and facility are consistently working towards improving the level of care that they provide, and the efforts they are taking to provide for their community.

4. Vice President of Population Health

Healthcare providers need a new mindset to move toward a model that keeps patient populations as healthy as possible. Healthcare professionals also need someone to manage unnecessary expenditure reduction for care and create a greater cost-benefit for the organization, lowering costs.

Individuals in this role lead the efforts that strive to improve the lives of patients that are covered under the provider. The Vice President of Population Health will strive to work directly with other healthcare administrators in their facility to improve the wellness program for their community and their facility's population. The VP of Population Health is in charge of using a variety of data and resources to make informed decisions and follow through with those decisions. Some of the common responsibilities include educating other healthcare professionals on what they can do to improve the population health outcomes, develop and conduct wellness seminars, conduct health assessments, and more.

For those healthcare professionals that want to pursue an information technology job that still works directly with patients and uses the latest and greatest technology, then this might be the healthcare information technology career for you. According to Glassdoor, the average salary for Vice Presidents of Population Health is between $110,000 to $315,000.

5. Chief Data Officer

The key role of a Chief Data Officer is to provide vision and strategy for all data management activities within a healthcare organization and facility. As a CDO, one takes the lead across the enterprise in global data management, governance, quality, and vendor relationships. The job responsibilities include these important facets: establishing policies and standards for all data, and the organization and enforcement of these concepts.

What is notable about this position is, as healthcare organizations grow in need to serve their patients through the use of data, this role will become increasingly more relevant.The Chief Data Officer is responsible for overseeing data management, the creation of quality data, the implementation of data, data security in conjunction with the security officers, and more.

6. Data Scientist

One of the rapidly growing careers we highlighted earlier as it relates to the future of the healthcare industry is the role of a Data Scientist. The need for healthcare Data Scientists will continue to grow in the healthcare industry as data and analytics become part of the norm for the industry and increasingly shape the way decisions are made and care is provided. People in this role need to be well informed in statistical, mathematical, and predictive modeling skills.

In addition to this knowledge, individuals should also be aware (given the name of the role) of strategic requirements so they can ask the right questions and find the answers to those questions. Data Scientists are tasked with taking in massive amounts of information and attempting to come up with some significant conclusions as to what it means and how it can impact the industry and the ability to provide and care for others. Big data is great, but it's only useful when there are healthcare information technologists who know how to use it, and that's where Data Scientists come in.

According to PayScale, the average salary for Data Scientists is between $65,000 to $134,000.

7. Security Architect

A Security Architect develops the defenses that protect an organization’s information system. This is especially crucial for the healthcare industry where an organization's information system is everything. The security of patients’ data is hugely important in the healthcare field and is a very high priority. The job of a security architect is to think in terms of a hacker and always stay one step ahead. They should be well-versed all possible approaches hackers use to gain access into an organization’s portal and play a vital role in developing policies and procedures for system users, while actively monitoring usage.

The core responsibilities of a Security Architect include performing various vulnerability tests, conducting an information technology security system analysis, designing new infrastructure that can be implemented efficiently and effectively, and responding immediately to security issues that might pop up from time to time.

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for Security Architects is between $94,000 to $160,000.

8. Chief Digital Officer

A Chief Digital Officer's role is still evolving and often their responsibilities involve looking at the big picture of how digital strategies an organization pursues can improve operations that aid building its business. The role of the Chief Digital Officer is to look into the organization’s culture and communicate the changes needed to produce new, more productive ways of operating. A Chief Digital Officer is responsible for working directly with other information technologists and administrative staff members to focus on creating the digital brand of the healthcare organization and the hospital.

As nearly everything in the healthcare industry increasingly switches to digital mediums instead of hard-copy items, Chief Digital Officers are in charge of evaluating what should go digital and what shouldn't, and then identify the best ways to do that.

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for Chief Digital Officers is $243,000 to $301,000 per year.

Healthcare Start-Ups and Medical Coding

In the past several years, the medical industry has seen an explosion of growth in the medical information storage field. Healthcare organizations have shifted their regulations and practices for patient data. This has made medical coding, information technology, and start-up careers extremely vital to the industry.

Not only are new technologies changing the way the healthcare field utilizes IT jobs, but they also are allowing for new healthcare trends, such as start-ups, to command the market.

When most people think of start-up companies, they think of grueling hours and little compensation. Don’t let that scare you off! Many times in the medical field, these healthcare IT start-ups offer much more pay, as they are becoming more important to the industry.

The best part of the medical technology field is the steady growth and satisfaction that it provides students and workers. Graduating with a specialized degree that prepares you to take on these various technological roles in the medical field will give you an upper hand when sending out résumés to potential employers.

However, to really position yourself in the forefront of the healthcare start-up jobs trend, you should consider taking courses in medical coding. This will take anyone with a specialized degree or certification to the next level in an employer’s perspective.

Resume Tips for Working in Health Information Technology

Even though it seems jobs in the medical field are being created overnight, that doesn’t mean employers are hiring just anyone. They want someone who is knowledgeable and capable of handling this important role.

The healthcare industry has long been known as a highly competitive job market.
The field’s high standards for professionals demands that job seekers not only have the appropriate skill set and experience, but that they also know how to market themselves accordingly.

Even if you have all the right training, you have to have a stellar resume to make that first impression. Below are resume tips that will aid you in your job search for new job trends in the healthcare industry.

1. Aesthetics

A good resume relies on a solid format. It’s wise to use one-inch margins all around so recruiters can write notes and comments on the side. You should also avoid color, and stick to classic fonts that won’t distract the reader, such as Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial, etc.

2. Keep It Concise

Whether you have a lot of experience, or you’re just starting out, you should always keep your accomplishments concise and summarize the details. No-one wants to read a lengthy resume, especially if they only spend about six seconds looking over it. You want to be sure that all your awesome traits catch the employer’s eye!

3. Include Keywords

In today’s marketplace, jobs often use recruiting software to screen potential employees by searching for keywords in their resumes. A helpful tip that will give you a better chance at landing the job is to use some of the same words used in the job description in your resume. It is also wise to use keywords that match your target area. Examples would be words such as “targeting patient population” or “service development.”

4. Don’t Forget Your Skills

You obviously are going to list your experiences and achievements, but you should also list your skills. These are things that you have found you’re good at while completing assignments and tasks during other jobs and your education.

You will want to include any publication and research conducted. It is also important to show that your skills match with the ever-growing industry. This will give employers an idea of how adaptable you will be. Make sure your skills apply to the job to which you’re applying.

5. Remember to Sell Yourself

Most resume strategies list your prior responsibilities in your previous positions. While this obviously won’t hurt you, this is the time to market yourself to stand out against the competition.

Don’t limit yourself to the job responsibilities. List technologies, machines, and procedures that aren’t typically used. List volunteer and shadow experience. You want these things to demonstrate your hard work and dedication to the overall field.

6. Update It Regularly

This is a biggie. As a professional, make sure to keep your information updated. It is likely you will use a wide range of skills and tasks. If you don’t update with each job, you may forget when you sit down to do it, resulting in a less impressive resume.

7. Avoid Clutter

You might think writing about your achievements, experience, and skills with long sentences and text is impressive. However, it works against you. If employers open a document and see clutter, they won’t take the time to read it.

Make sure you have enough white space between your sections, and keep sentences short and sweet.

8. Remain Relevant

Remember that this specific part of the healthcare field is rapidly changing and growing with each day. Your resume needs to demonstrate that you are current with new policies and regulations, that you know how to use new technologies, and that you are up-to-date with the job description.

Don’t be afraid to branch out and take courses in medical coding or any programs you are not familiar with. Always strive to stay current and above the rest of the competition.

For more information check out the How to Perfect Your Medical Resume in One Infographic. and the comprehensive Resume Guide we've put together.

Tips for the Interview

If you have an interview for one of these pivotal roles, consider the following tips for rocking the interview and landing the health information technology position of your dreams!

1. Arrive on time!

This is huge, and it’s important to remember to leave with plenty of time in advance to arrive on time. Arriving late looks bad, but if something weird happens, say a traffic accident, call as soon as you know you COULD be late.

Recruiters are looking for reasons to disqualify a candidate, and this is an easy one to avoid.

2. Dress sharply.

Yes, in a job where you are on the computer, you aren’t likely to wear a suit every day.

Regardless, you will want to show up to the interview with a conservative suit or dress to make a great first impression.

3. Show up prepared.

Research the organization and bring at least two additional copies of your resume.

Also, be prepared to answer questions about why you want to work in this field and what makes you qualified to handle such an important role.

4. Be honest.

When asked if you’ve ever made mistakes, don’t act like you’ve never made one before.

Not only will they know that is untruthful, but admitting your error and how you learned from it shows integrity.

Recruiters are used to candidates embellishing or just flat-out lying, so they can usually pick up on it pretty quickly.

5. Sell yourself confidently.

Be yourself and get a good feel for the position. You want to be sure that you can see yourself working in that job for years to come.

After the interview, write a brief and sincere note to your interviewer.

Just that little step will set you apart from other candidates while showing interest, manners, and attention to detail.

Conquer the Medical IT Industry

As we have stated before, technology is not just vital to the future of healthcare, it is the future of healthcare.

It is only a matter of time before these health information technology and start-up careers become the norm.

As long as there is data to analyze, codes to decipher, and systems to protect, these positions will remain relevant and valuable to healthcare organizations.

If you are interested in emerging technology jobs in a medical setting, take the time to research and learn what education and training you need to secure a position.

Stay relevant to the job market, and who knows where you can go?

There is huge potential and room for growth in this aspect of the healthcare field.

So, what are you waiting for? Become a major player in the medical IT world! Create your own start-up with technology and information you believe a medical organization can benefit from.

In this ever-evolving technological world, the sky really is the limit. Gone are the days where the term “healthcare professional” refers to those solely working within the clinic – doctors, nurses, PAs, etc.

Advance your career. Change your life. - HospitalCareers