Managed Care

 

So Much Data, So Few IT Workers

So Much Data, So Few IT Workers

Frank Diamond

Steve Jobs famously staked his claim at the intersection of technology and creativity. Health insurers are looking for the intersection of technology and benefits knowledge, but are not quite sure how to get there. Do you hire information technicians and train them in the ways of health coverage, or do you hire (or promote from within) people who know insurance and train them to be IT savvy? It’s a pressing question given that the government anticipates a shortage of about 50,000 qualified health information technology (HIT) workers between 2010 and 2015, according to the PwC study “Solving the Talent Equation for Health IT” .

“Across the health sector, senior executives describe a challenging paradox: just as they are preparing to make major increases in technology investments they are encountering shortages in key personnel and are concerned about the industry’s ability to absorb change and integrate new workflows with HIT,” the study states.

The Affordable Care Act, with its emphasis on accountable care organizations and health insurance exchanges, means that insurers will have to sell to patients more than they did in the past. “In many ways they are playing catch up with many other industries — such as retail — in attracting, engaging and building loyalty among consumers.”

Gary Harvey, vice president of information technology at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, told researchers that “We can easily find someone who knows a tool, how to extract data from using it, and how to technically layer the data. But it’s very difficult to find someone who can look at the data and determine whether it is the right data to answer a business question or solve a problem. We see a huge gap in the talent pool for analytics talent. And it’s even harder for us to find people with clinical expertise.”

Remember the adage about giving someone a fish as opposed to teaching him to fish? Well, it doesn’t apply here. But your thoughts do, so please do tell. What are you doing about this problem?

The author is managing editor of Managed Care.

Meetings

Private Health Insurance Exchanges Conference Washington, D.C. October 7–8, 2014
National Healthcare Facility Management Summit Palm Beach, FL October 16–17, 2014
National Healthcare CFO Summit Las Vegas, NV October 19–21, 2014
National Healthcare CXO Summit Las Vegas, NV October 19–21, 2014
Innovative Member Engagement Operations For Health Plans Las Vegas, NV October 20–21, 2014
4th Partnering With ACOs Summit Los Angeles, CA October 27–28, 2014
2014 Annual HEDIS® and Star Ratings Symposium Nashville, TN November 3–4, 2014
PCMH & Shared Savings ACO Leadership Summit Nashville, TN November 3–4, 2014
World Orphan Drug Congress Europe 2014 Brussels, Belgium November 12–14, 2014
Medicare Risk Adjustment, Revenue Management, & Star Ratings Fort Lauderdale, FL November 12–14, 2014
Healthcare Chief Medical Officer Forum Alexandria, VA November 13–14, 2014
Home Care Leadership Summit Atlanta, GA November 17–18, 2014