Texas State researchers are estimating 10,000 more workers will be needed in Texas’ health information technology field by 2013.
Susan Fenton, assistant professor for the department of health information management, spearheaded the research. The department received a two-year Texas Work Force Grant totaling $880,000, making the groundbreaking research possible.
Fenton said the research aims to find an estimate of needed health IT workers for the state so educational institutions can develop a plan for the future. Elizabeth Joost, grant director for the department of health information management, said no one has done research similar to this.
“I would say (Fenton) was on the cutting edge,” Joost said.
The researchers found a need for thousands more skilled IT employees in Texas. The research was conducted through online surveys with 94 Texas hospitals and clinics about their current number of health IT workers. It took into consideration vacancies in 2011 and the number of health IT workers they expect to hire in 2013.
The hospitals and clinics surveyed estimated they will need to employ a combined total of 1,314 health IT employees in 2013. That number was then multiplied by half the number of clinics and hospitals in Texas, resulting in a projected 9,500 health IT employees needed for 2013. When non-healthcare providers such as insurance companies are factored in, the total comes to 10,000.
Texas has one of the largest health IT industries, outmatched only by New York and California, according to the Employer Needs Assessment Report conducted by Fenton.
“It’s become so vital because of the federal push and incentives for the implementation of electronic health records,” Fenton said.
The federal government released a stimulus package in 2009 that reimbursed doctors and physicians who switched from paper medical records to electronic medical records. Nora Belcher, executive director of the Texas e-Health Alliance, said this incentive for the health care providers is the main reason the health IT field is seeing such rapid growth.
Belcher said the maturity and acceleration of technology in general is also a reason the field is increasing in popularity. The health IT field, according to Fenton and Belcher, is creating more jobs for many Americans.
“With unemployment the way it is, this is a fantastic retraining opportunity for people,” Belcher said.
Texas State currently has 200 students enrolled in the Health Information Management program. Fenton said the school is currently not producing as many health IT workers as are needed.