Solid Salaries for Health IT Strategists

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 - Mary C. Tierney
Mary C. Tierney

So how are health IT projects and health IT professionals holding up in our current economic crisis? Very well, according to data and input from readers in our annual Health IT Salary Survey. IT professional’s salaries are holding strong, although raises and bonuses are iffy for a few positions, so say the 400 people who contributed to this year’s results. Overall, IT professionals tell us they’re satisfied or very satisfied with their salaries and job. Check out our title-by-title chart to see where you stand.

Staffing is status quo this year, with most (56 percent) survey respondents expecting no change in positions in their facilities and departments. A quarter of our survey base expect to hire more people in 2009, while only 10 percent forecast a decrease in staff. IT professionals are staying put, with 10 percent saying they expect to change jobs this year (down from about 18 percent last year).

In addition to the salary data they shared, IT leaders—80 percent of whom have a hand in IT strategy and purchasing decisions—gave us a glimpse inside their priorities for IT projects and clinical systems. Among CIOs, CMIOs, CMOs and vice presidents of information systems, the top IT priority of 2009 is reducing medical errors, followed by improving data security, delivering clinical knowledge to physicians, disaster recovery and improving departmental workflow, according to respondents. Some 40 percent say implementing an EMR is a priority, which is little surprise as we await the definitions of “meaningful use and certified EHR” so facilities can leverage funds from the $19 billion in stimulus bill money earmarked for EMRs. To add some perspective, that 40 percent reflects a very sophisticated audience since a recent New England Journal of Medicine article noted that fewer than 2 percent of acute-care hospitals have implemented a comprehensive EHR, while less than 8 percent have a basic EHR in place.

Next year, implementing a clinical portal rises to the top of the IT priority list, according to our respondents, followed by implementing an EMR, disaster recovery, implementing CPOE and delivering clinical knowledge to patients. Nationwide, CPOE implementation now runs about 13 to 17 percent, according to KLAS and NEJM.

Cardiovascular information systems are the No. 1 clinical system that respondents say they are upgrading or replacing. Next on the list are laboratory and pathology information systems, radiology information systems, hospital information systems and enterprise PACS.