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Hospitals compete for IT talent with funding at stake

Network World/IDG News Service, June 2, 2011

Healthcare providers in the U.S. are encountering a lack of qualified candidates as they race to meet federal government deadlines for electronic health record and health IT use. The challenge, medical CIOs say, is to find enough IT staff who can help hospitals and medical practices migrate from paper records to EHRs and manage the large amount of patient data generated from practicing medicine. At stake is $25 billion in funding allocated in 2009 by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, for spending on EHRs and health IT. Medical providers will be compensated for the cost of the systems if they meet criteria by certain dates, with four key deadlines coming in the next six months. With the government spending almost as much as the healthcare industry's total value of $27 billion, "you can imagine there's going to be a fair amount of hiring," said John Halamka, a doctor at and CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. To manage his hospital's EHR rollout, Halamka opted to outsource the task to a firm that specialized in EHR implementation and practice transformation.