A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog that questioned whether federal grant money being pumped into electronic medical records training would truly create some 50,000 new healthcare IT jobs over the next five years as predicted by at least one high-ranking federal official.
While I continue to remain skeptical about the pace of EMR adoption by hospitals, clinics and physician groups and the number of IT jobs that will actually be created by these grants, the combination of these and other emerging technologies being implemented throughout the healthcare industry should help spark a wave of projects aimed at improving the efficiency and quality of patient care. These types of advances in healthcare IT should help drive a significant amount of IT job growth for this sector alone. And that's good news for an IT labor market that's slowly recovering from the most recent recession.
Two new studies help support the notion of healthcare as an incubator of new job growth for IT professionals. According to a report by the University of California San Diego Extension, healthcare IT jobs rank first among the hottest career options for recent and mid-career college graduates. The report, which cites figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, estimates that more than 35,000 IT jobs are expected to be added in healthcare over the next ten years. The study points to growing demand for emerging positions such as healthcare integration engineer, healthcare systems analyst, clinical IT consultant and technology support specialist.
Meanwhile, a Gartner study finds that the use of mobile phones, sensor technologies, portable medical devices and wireless health applications will play a greater role in connecting patients with healthcare providers over the next five years, according to a recent article in InformationWeek. While the article points to how healthcare CIOs have generally been slow to address enterprise mobility, wireless application demands among patients and healthcare providers will continue to drive the need for IT leaders to work through security and other concerns to accommodate these requirements.
All of these developments are promising for recent and near-term college graduates who are struggling to find work. According to Bloomberg, the national unemployment rate for people under 25 years old was 19.6% in April, the highest level for this group since the U.S. Department of Labor began tracking this data in 1948.
The demand for healthcare IT professionals should also help generate some renewed interest in IT among American youth. While the positive prognosis for the healthcare IT labor market isn't a cure-all for an IT jobs market that has taken its lumps over the past decade, it is a step in the right direction.