US requires 40,000 more health IT professionals

April 18th, 2008 - 4:53 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, April 18 (IANS) United States alone requires an additional 40,000 IT professionals to move its healthcare toward a paperless system that cuts costs and medical errors. That is the finding of an analytical report presented here on Friday at the meeting of Steering Committee on Tele-health and Healthcare Informatics, by William Hersh of Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU).

The report was based on an analysis of the HIMSS Analytics database, the largest and most comprehensive source of its kind, with information from 5,000 US hospitals.

“The need for IT professionals in health information technology (HIT) settings is large and will increase as more advanced systems are implemented,” Hersh and co-author Adam Wright concluded in their report.

“If our data represent a correct sampling of the entire US, then the current IT staff workforce is about 108,390 full-time equivalents (FTEs). However, if HIT agenda is fulfilled and hospitals move to higher levels of adoption, an additional 40,784 FTEs will be required,” Hersh said.

That represents an increase of 37.6 percent over the current FTE total. This level of staffing, the authors said, would bring US hospitals up to the advanced level of HIT adoption that has been shown to be associated with quality improvements and cost savings.

The meeting was moderated by US Representative David Wu. “A workforce trained in healthcare IT is essential to bringing greater quality and efficiency to the healthcare industry,” he said.

“These findings also demonstrate the need to better understand and develop education and training for health IT professionals,” said Hersh, who directs OHSU’s educational programmes in biomedical informatics.

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