Report Looks at HIEs from the Inside Out

Health information exchanges (HIEs) and their business models are continuously evolving, but a new report sheds light on how these entities are currently organized and staffed.

For example: the average health information exchange organization is a small organization, with 10 or fewer members, organized like a not-for-profit. Its existing staff roles are most likely to be technology or operational roles, and there’s often a need for positions with specialization in finance, HIM, health IT, provider relations, and computer science. The HIO is not always hiring, but when it does, it is often challenged by a lack of available candidates, particularly in executive management and master patient index roles.

These are a few of the findings of a recently released environmental scan report, “Trends in Health Information Exchange Organizational Staffing.” The report is based on a survey of health information exchange organizations or networks (HIOs). The research was conducted by AHIMA and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) who teamed up to explore both current and planned HIE staffing models. “The results of this analysis will serve those who are seeking employment focused on data exchange or HIE activities, including those exploring opportunities in education, training and certification to enhance their knowledge and skills in this area,” the report says.

The survey was conducted in 2012. Representatives from 35 HIE organizations, encompassing a wide range of sizes, locations, funding strategies, and stages of implementation, responded to a detailed survey on their operational strategies, current staffing profiles and anticipated hiring needs. The result is a detailed look at HIO operations, organization, staffing practices and needs, education and certification requirements, compensation, and hard-to-fill positions or skill sets.

As well as clarifying current HIO demographic and staffing trends, the report also offers recommendations for individuals who are interested in working in an HIO. According to the report, these professionals should try to understand the varied and changing priorities of these organizations. Recommendations included:

  • Candidates able to apply a diverse set of skills and knowledge successfully in an uncertain entrepreneurial environment may be best suited for the demands of working in an HIO.
  • Non-technical professionals should investigate newly forming HIOs, which may be more likely than established organizations to have open positions in business, operations, and marketing.
  • Do some research on the HIOs before applying. HIO service offerings will directly reflect some staffing needs, giving candidates a starting point for placing their own skill sets and potential value within the organization.

The report is available at the HIMSS and AHIMA websites.

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