The recently released HIMSS Workforce Study highlighted some important issues that many in the industry have been encountering firsthand for a while now. While the factors contributing to the current situation continue to change almost as fast as technology changes around us, we must look at how our organizations can adapt and thrive in this environment. Enacting programs that both attract employees and help increase staff retention are critical. Employee training and development and salary and benefit plans, as expected, are top on most current and potential employees’ lists. Also, as expected, the areas that top the needs lists for the provider and vendor sectors are project managers. Skilled PMs continue to be the hardest to find and in demand the most, followed closely by clinical application support and system design and implementation staff. On the clinical side, RNs and pharmacists lead the needs list for most, and someone with a clinical background with strong PM experience is most desired in the healthcare IT marketplace.
How can organizations avoid implementation shortfalls and delays? There are some key activities that organizations need to undertake. Strategic IT planning is essential in this environment, both short and long term. Short terms plans must be reviewed and updated frequently to ensure that the IT plans and goals are aligned with the organizations strategic plans and goals. These plans must then be used to evaluate the skill mix of staff and the coordination of training and development plans for internal staff. This is an area that can be used to aid in staff retention, as many areas are seeing staffing shortages due to turnover related to rising incentives for contract employees. Organizations must also look hard before reducing attractive benefits for employees that are high on the lists for provider and vendor sectors, including items such as paid tuition, payment for professional organization memberships, and professional development programs.