In an age when Barack Obama, if elected, plans to name the nation’s first chief technology officer (CTO), and technology behemoths Microsoft and Googleare setting out to create vast repositories for personal health information, being a CTO or CIO (chief information officer) in the health care space is an increasingly appealing career option for executives.
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.
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With Google Health, Microsoft HealthVault and Dossia making partnerships with big health players like Cleveland Clinic and Kaiser Permanente, the $1.4 billion electronic personal health record market will only 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 technology experts to implement this infrastructure.
Even with the economic downturn 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 200,000 square-foot outpatient center in Danvers in June 2009.
Health care 2.0 components like social networking will also add to health care IT growth. Combine these two in-demand fields of health care and IT and you've got economic gold that even Ben Bernanke can't undermine.
Jennifer Prestigiacomo is Vault.com's healthcare writer. She has a double bachelor’s in journalism and in radio/TV/film from The University of Texas at Austin.
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