If ever there was a great time to be a healthcare IT professional, it’s now. Not only are HIT experts in demand (and will be for the foreseeable future), but the perks and benefits of a health IT career are among some of the best in both the healthcare and IT industries.
But we know that even the best jobs in the most promising industries have their share of good and bad. So, in this article, we’ll discuss some of the pros and cons of the healthcare IT profession.
Pro: You have your pick of jobs. Healthcare IT is expected to grow through 2018. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the healthcare industry will generate 3.2 million new jobs over the next six years, more than any other industry. This projected growth is attributed primarily to the growing aging population and the federal mandate that all healthcare providers implement electronic medical records (EMR’s).
Con: Too many jobs; too few candidates. Because there is a shortage of certified healthcare IT professionals, existing staffs will likely be stretched to their limits. With the rush to convert healthcare operations to Electronic Helth Records (EHR’s), that could mean a lot of long days and nights for health IT staff.
Pay and Expenses
Pro: Excellent pay. According to a survey conducted by job site Dice.com, 65% of hiring managers expect to add IT professionals to their staffs through June of this year. That’s excellent news, even more so because these jobs pay well. Per the HIMSS website, earnings for a health IT associate averaged $70,993 in 2010 and senior management earned upwards of $169,826.
(UPDATE: 2013 HIMSS Compensation Survey)
Con: Contract consultants are often responsible for numerous out-of-pocket expenses and tracking such for reimbursement can be cumbersome.
Pro: No two days are ever the same. This is great, if you thrive on variety. As an in-demand IT professional, you’ll get a chance to work on a variety of different projects with different teams and people. In one day, you might do everything from workflow analysis to troubleshooting problems, to system redesign, and more.
Con: No two days are ever the same, which can make it hard to plan your day. While you might have a day that’s relatively problem-free, you could have another that’s rife with problems. Also, as a subject-matter expert, you might even occasionally be asked to provide your expertise on areas or issues outside the original scope of the project. You’ll need to use discretion and tact to navigate this tricky scenario, so you don’t end up doing work outside your initial, contractual agreement.
Pro: The ability to travel. If you enjoy traveling to new cities, and working with new teams on a regular basis, take heart: regular travel is part of the job for many health IT consultants.
Con: You may travel a lot. Some Healthcare IT professionals travel up to 90% of the time, often leaving to report to work on Sunday night and not returning home until Thursday or Friday. That can be particularly challenging and taxing if you have a family, as your travel schedule could mean you won’t be present for sports events, recitals and more.
Plus, even though your company may arrange lodging and car rentals for you, you’ll be responsible for tracking your billable expenses and making sure you’re compensated fairly and on time.
Bottom Line for Healthcare IT Professionals
No matter what industry or type of job you choose, there will be pros, cons and trade-offs. But if you’re looking for a career that offers flexibility, regular, challenging projects, great pay and a surplus of available jobs, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one better than that of a healthcare IT professional.