Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Three Reasons Why the Demand for Health Technology Professionals is at an All-Time High

By Yeva Madden, Assistant Professor, Health Information Management

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for health information professionals is set to grow by 22% through 2022. The specific field is set to grow “much faster than the average for all occupations” and according to the BLS there could be additional increased demand due to continuing need to organize and manage information in all areas of healthcare.

There are several factors that are contributing to this demand. Some of the primary reasons include:
  • An expected 32 million additional patients in the system because of health care reform
  • The aging U.S. Population - By 2025, the Census Bureau projects a 36 percent growth in the number of Americans over age 65.
  • Population growth – 4 million babies are born in the U.S. each year according to the CDC/National Center for Health Statistics.
  • New regulations that incentivizes healthcare providers to adopt electronic health records as well as new penalties for providers who fail to adopt.
  • Changes to medical coding that will increase the codes professionals use from 17,000 to 140,000, which will decrease existing productivity and require a significant increase in new coders.
  • As all of this information becomes electronic, the demand for privacy and security is of increasing concern.
Healthcare organizations rely on health information professionals to manage the flow of electronic medical information, convert physical charts into electronic medical reports on secure computer databases, and keep patient information secure. They enable health care providers to improve the quality of patient care through the secure use and sharing of health information.

Because of the changes mentioned above, there is a shortage of health information professionals to help healthcare organizations overcome these challenges. To gain a better understanding of the opportunities, let’s take a closer look at three of the forces behind the demand.

Electronic healthcare records
The federal HITECH Act of 2009 made it a critical national goal to improve health care quality, safety, and efficiency through the promotion of health IT. This includes electronic health records and private and secure electronic health information exchange.

When it was enacted, the federal government offered incentives to organizations that took measures to help support the goals. One of the primary goals was converting to electronic health records (EHR). EHR’s are the digitized version of medical paper charts. They allow real-time access and updates so that patient information is available instantly to other providers across multiple healthcare organizations, including labs, pharmacies, and other specialists.

Within the first few years of the HITECH act coming online, it drove an 86% increase in monthly job postings related to “electronic health record” or “clinical informatics.” Over the next few years we’ll continue to see an increased demand as organizations will be penalized for not implementing EHRs beginning in 2015.

 Medical coding changes 
As we discussed in our recent blog post, in October 2015 medical coding standards will undergo a change that increases the number of codes used from 17,000 to over 140,000. This significant addition of new codes will decrease productivity of current medical coders by up to 50%, and create a surge in demand for skilled coders.

Privacy and security demands 
Privacy, security, and confidentiality of personal health information has always been a top priority for health information professionals. With HITECH legislation and medical information technology advancements, patient information is now becoming more distributed than ever throughout various electronic systems. In addition, there has also been recent updates to legislation that requires healthcare organizations to take stronger security measures when dealing with patient information. Because of these factors, there is an increased demand for health information management professionals to help providers ensure their patient medical records remain confidential and secure.

Prepare to Seize the Opportunities
The Peirce Healthcare programs are designed to prepare professionals for a career supporting the delivery of healthcare and management of patient health information – key areas poised for significant growth over the next decade. Whether you’re just starting your higher education, looking to transfer or apply existing college credits, or if you’re currently a professional looking to advance or switch careers, Peirce has a program that can help you meet your goals. Our convenient on campus, online, and hybrid courses gives you the flexibility of attending class when it best suits your schedule.

If you’re ready to get the degree you need for the life you deserve, contact our admissions representatives at 215-670-9214 or email us at and find out why today is the day that could change everything!