Diving Deeper: The Data Behind the Salary Survey

The Health Imaging & IT Healthcare IT Salary survey we conducted for this issue provides great insight into the salaries of IT professionals, but it goes beyond that to provide a snapshot of the business and IT priorities of our readers CIOs, directors and managers of technical services, network engineers, PACS administrators, directors and managers of information systems, IT project managers, directors and managers of radiology informatics and cardiology informatics, systems administrators and network engineers. (Thank you to those who took the time to participate!)

Some 21 percent of the respondents are responsible for developing IT strategy for their entire organization or enterprise, while 18 percent handle a group of facilities within the organization. Another 26 percent handle IT strategy for a clinical department. Survey respondents also reflect a solid cross-section of healthcare facilities—from health systems and community hospitals to multi-hospital IDNs and imaging centers.

We thought the data was too valuable not to share it. For example, who are the professionals most often found on the technology purchasing decision-making teams of hospitals, imaging centers and physician offices? The top three are the CFO, CEO and CIO, but see the whole list below. What percentage of facilities have a cardiovascular information system or utilize enterprise PACS? Thirty-three percent and 69 percent, respectively. See the chart for more details. And how many are upgrading or replacing their radiology information system? Nineteen percent.

What is the No. 1 healthcare IT priority for 2008—and looking ahead to 2009 and 2010? Start with reducing medical errors. And what are the top business issues—data security, patient satisfaction or EMRs? Read on.

Who sits at the table?

Meet the healthcare IT decision-makers: As technology becomes more important to the business process, hospitals and healthcare facilities are making room at the table for IT executives, directors and managers alongside administrative and clinical leaders. Here are the key players making strategic decisions.

Healthcare IT

Patient satisfaction ranks tops: Professionals working in healthcare are a dedicated, focused group. So it came as little surprise to us that when we asked people to rank what is “very important” in a list of 16 topics, patient satisfaction and improving quality of care clearly ranked No. 1 and 2. What ranks next? Data security and privacy, improving organizational workflow, keeping up with IT skills, integration of disparate IT systems, finding qualified employees and adopting new technology. To our surprise, economic considerations ranked at the bottom of the list—but ahead of concerns about overall job market. Reimbursement ranked 10th, creating new revenue sources and service lines ranked 14th, Medicare cutbacks came in 15th and demand for capital was next.

IT Personnel

Staffing surge: Look for an increase in IT staffing in the next year based with 52 percent of the survey base expecting an increase. Only 4 percent expect a decrease in IT staff. About 37 percent expect status quo.

Staff satisfaction: IT professionals like their jobs, with 69 percent telling us they are satisfied with their positions; only 4 percent are dissatisfied. Likely because of their job satisfaction, only 18 percent plan to change jobs this year—and we’re glad to see that the vast majority (83 percent) of those new job-seekers hope to stay in healthcare.

Status of IT Systems

Technology on my mind: The majority of our healthcare IT survey base spend their days focused on image management and PACS (92 percent), followed closely by clinical workstations (89 percent) and clinical information systems (86 percent). Data storage (83 percent), disaster recovery (82 percent), networking (82 percent) rank next, followed by speech recognition (76 percent) and EMRs (67 percent).

Here’s a snapshot of the systems healthcare facilities have installed, are looking to upgrade, are choosing to develop in-house or are planning to deploy in the future. Enterprise PACS is installed at the most facilities (69 percent), while the highest percentage of survey respondents are upgrading their radiology information system (19 percent). About 8 percent of respondents are developing an EMR in-house, while 13 percent are planning to implement an EMR.

Final Word

The Nitty Gritty: Radiology still dominates with the majority of healthcare IT people reporting through this department (39 percent). Not too far behind is IS/IT (28 percent) followed by Corporate/Administration (13 percent). The blend of shared IT responsibilities is starting to show in shared positions—whether they be shared by radiology and cardiology, radiology and radiation oncology or radiology and IT.

In terms of IT operations responsibility, the majority of respondents take care of 2 to 5 departments. About 27 percent are responsible for one department. The number of remote locations and connections spans from 2 to 10 and 11 to 100, although a few cover 1,000 to more than 10,000.