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Workforce and Regional Extension Center Challenges in HITECH Act

Posted on November 10, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I just read one of the best blog posts I’d read in a long time. So much so that I just had to post part of it a link to it on my site. The post is called “Far From Shovel-Ready” by Anthony Guerra. I think you all should go and read the entire post. It’s well thought out and well written. I don’t know Anthony Guerra personally, but our paths have regularly crossed on the internet. I hope one day to have the pleasure of meeting him (maybe at HIMSS?).

His blog post starts out with this statement, “Legislation that took weeks to write will wreak havoc for years.” I’m not quite as certain as Anthony that it WILL wreak havoc. However, I’ve been warning of the possibilities of problems for a while now.

He describes the main points of his post like this:

My unpalatable HITECH morsel of the moment centers, generally, around the lack of healthcare IT workforce necessary to make the legislation’s goals a reality and, more specifically, the bizarre market dynamics that will be precipitated by the half-baked Regional Extension Center (REC) farce.

You can read the article for the rest of the details. However, those interested/worried/concerned about the workforce shortage in healthcare IT will enjoy this part of the article:

This means the fight for healthcare IT talent, which everyone agrees is heating up, will get doubly vicious, with hospitals, large practices, vendors and consultancies — and now 70 RECs — competing on what will be an uneven playing field for scarce talent.

Why uneven? Because the RECs will be able to pay fantasy wages, taxpayer funded wages, to woo the cream of your healthcare IT workforce.

At the recently held annual CHIME conference, I spoke to the CEO of a boutique HIT consultancy who said he, “needed 50 people TODAY,” but had no idea where they would come from. John Glaser, Ph.D., CIO at Partners Healthcare and senior special advisor to ONCHIT, recently wrote that those who employ healthcare IT talent must be sure their wages are fair and their work fulfilling, as poaching season is fast approaching.

Timeframes to Implement an EMR and the EMR Regional Extension Centers

Posted on October 14, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I quoted this CIO in my previous post about EMR Motivations, but I also thought that Neal Ganguly provided some interesting analysis of the time frames involved with selecting, implementing and using an EMR. Plus, he takes it one step further and adds in the time frames to get the EMR regional extension centers in place as well. Check out the EMR timelines:

Hospitals / Physicians: It can take 3-6 months to evaluate and select a system and then it takes 18-24 months to install a hospital clinical system. It takes 2-5 months to properly install a physician EMR. It can take 6-12 months or more to work out the kinks and become productive on such systems.

The talent pool to accomplish this work is spread thin. Hence the extension center concept. However, it can take 3-6 months to establish centers operationally (find space, recruit staff, establish curriculums, etc), and then 3-6 months to recruit and train people to a reasonable standard to make them minimally effective. So optimistically, it would be 6-12 months from inception before the first trained individuals emerge from those centers – and really, 12-24 months before they have some of the real life experience needed to be effective.

It really struck me when Neal compared the time to get a regional extension center going and their inability to really support those interested in ARRA stimulus money.