Hospital Techies: potential to live long and prosperous
In an age when Barack Obama, if elected, plans to name the nation’s first chief technology officer (CTO), and technology behemoths Microsoft and Google are setting out to create vast repositories for personal health information, being a CTO or CIO (chief information officer) in the health care space never seemed like a savvier idea. A study presented to the House Steering Committee on Telehealth and Healthcare Informatics earlier this year cited that the country's health care system will require 40,000 additional health IT professionals (close to 40 percent) as the nation moves toward wider IT adoption.
In the health care field, CIOs are responsible for setting forth the organization's long-term strategies and managing hardware and software applications, while CTOs generally manage day-to-day operations and technology standards and practices. These tech positions, which can net up to $400,000 for administrators of large multi-hospital systems, are increasingly requiring an MBA or MHA (masters in health administration) and previous director-level IT experience in the health care field. Chief medical information officers (CMIO), technologically-oriented MDs who usually have either an MBA, MHA or MMM (master of medical management) and help tie together the medical and technological aspects of a health care setting, are becoming more commonplace too. To this end, medical informatics programs, like the Cleveland Clinic Medical Informatics Fellowship and the Yale University Medical Informatics Fellowship, are cropping up all over the nation to train these new doctors in the latest informatics.
With Google Health, Microsoft HealthVault and Dossia making partnerships with big health players like Cleveland Clinic and Kaiser Permanente, the proliferation of the$1.4 billion electronic personal health record market is only going to grow. President Bush also made it a goal to outfit all Americans with electronic health records by 2014, so that means the health care space will need a growing number of high-level techies to implement this infrastructure.
Even with the economic downturn we're facing, hospitals are still rolling out their EMR programs and moving forward with expansion projects: Johns Hopkins Hospital is moving full steam ahead with their $1.2 billion redevelopment project to replace half their inpatient beds and add two clinical towers, while Massachusetts General Hospital is set to open a 200,000square-foot outpatient center in Danvers in June 2009.
Health care 2.0 components like social networking will also add to health care IT growth. And recently with the ability to map your own DNA genome with a quick spit in a cup, there's no telling how many health care techies will be needed to data map all this. Combine these two in-demand fields of health care and IT and you've got economic gold that even Ben Bernanke can't undermine.