by Jeff Sassenscheid
The healthcare IT landscape is evolving at a rapid pace. As our service offerings expand, the demand to find talent with knowledge of specific ERP and experience within a hospital or healthcare environment is becoming systemically more challenging.
Many in the technology space insist the technology shortage isn’t real; that it is a matter of finding talent and taking the time to train them or have a pipeline of succession so you are always recruiting entry level analysts to drive the talent skills to BA to PM and so on. As a former HR and Talent Leader, yes that process may be a portion of the long-term solution to the IT management talent shortage, but there are other major factors impacting that model – overall population size is shrinking, Gen X’ers are retiring sooner, Boomers are almost fully out of the job market – to name a few. So, while a great model in theory, what if there aren’t enough people entering the pipeline?
Additionally, specific market circumstances must be considered. For instance, my location of Nashville, TN is a “healthcare hub” with the corporate offices of many large national hospital systems and, coincidingly, also the home offices of healthcare ancillary businesses supporting those hospitals. According to the latest data published by the Nashville Business Journal, Nashville has the lowest unemployment rate of any major metropolitan area (2.3%) with the lowest IT talent pool deficit (-3.4%). Thus, the pipeline process for cities such as my own would be focused on drawing employees out of non-IT related industries and offer them the education and mind-shift about the opportunities within IT versus retail or manufacturing. On top of this, IT employers would then need to consider which mandatory qualification requirements matter most – a college degree, or skills and experience.
Compounding the issue for firms servicing the ERP space within the clinical markets, we often have the requirement from clients that our teams be comprised of Subject Matter Experts or “SME’s” having come from healthcare environments. In other industries, this can typically be overcome as an “implementation is an implementation,” regardless of team member industry experience; however, the healthcare landscape is unique and those market specific requests are proving valid. To the experienced practitioner it may seem an “implementation is an implementation,” and an “integration is an integration,” but if we take a closer look, is there any other industry where two distinct core enterprise support technologies are running parallel to one another and must be integrated?
The answer is a resounding no.
In that crux of ERP and EHR/HIT coming together to support massive organizations impacting employees, patients, and patient outcomes, is a special set of required skills to deal with the complexities of properly serving our clients. In a standard marketplace, having major ERP system technology experience, such as Infor (Lawson)/ Peoplesoft/ SAP, with a myriad of modules implemented is outstanding; in the healthcare vertical the next question is have you integrated it with Epic/ Cerner/ et al? That, in essence, is the state of healthcare – two stand-alone enterprise technologies now finally being recognized as inevitably linked and requiring bi-directional data feeds to one another and a multitude of other technologies (HCM, HRIS, SCM, Financials, etc.)
The time for planning about a shortage or debating if there is a shortage is over. The time for action is now and the firms that do not take the steps to develop pipelines, relocation and traveler strategies, and deep referral networks will not be able to compete in the healthcare markets in 2018 and the foreseeable future.