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Readers Write: Growing Contingent Workforce Benefits Both Healthcare Organizations and HIT Professionals

March 1, 2017 Readers Write No Comments

Growing Contingent Workforce Benefits Both Healthcare Organizations and HIT Professionals
By Frank Myeroff

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There’s high growth when it comes to temporary workers, contractors, independent consultants, and freelancers within healthcare IT. New technologies, cost factors, and a whole new generation of HIT professionals wanting to work in a gig economy are fueling this growth. The rise and growth of the contingent workforce is only expected to accelerate over the next few years into 2020.

This dynamic shift to a contingent workforce makes sense for healthcare organizations and the benefits are well worth it. With a contingent workforce, healthcare organizations experience a big efficiency boost, risk mitigation, and derive a substantial cost savings in these ways:

  • The rise of managed service providers (MSP) enable health systems to acquire and manage a contingent workforce. As contingent labor programs continue to grow, these partnerships will be one of the most important workforce solutions that a health system can adopt to effectively manage risk and decrease healthcare hiring.
  • The use of vendor management systems (VMS) is a fast way to source and hire contingent labor. These systems make it easy to submit requisitions to multiple staffing suppliers.
  • Outsourced expertise will be able to assist healthcare facilities in meeting the January 2018 EHR system requirements. In addition, they often have the extensive knowledge needed when it comes to medical coding. For example, according to the AMA, 2017 ICD-10-CM changes will include 2,305 new codes, 212 deleted ones, and 553 revised ones.
  • Healthcare organizations can dial up or dial down staffing as needed without having to pay FTE benefits.
  • Improved visibility and the provider stays in control through the use of structured reporting, governance processes, and dashboards.
  • Internal resources are freed-up to focus on higher-priority, clinical-facing initiatives such as workflow optimization.

For HIT professionals, contingency work in the HIT space is attractive since opportunities are plentiful, the remuneration is desirable, and the work is rewarding. In addition, work is becoming more knowledge- and project-based and therefore is causing healthcare organizations to become increasingly reliant on their specialized HIT skills and expertise. According to Black Book Rankings Healthcare, this reliance will help to fuel the growth of the global HIT outsourcing market, which should hit $50.4 billion by 2018.

However, making the change from an employee to a contingent worker takes thought and preparation before just jumping in. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Identify the niche where you have skills and expertise. Know your passion. Also, pinpoint what type of HIT services and advice you can offer that healthcare organizations are willing to pay for.
  • Obtain the required certifications. Getting certified is a surefire way to advance your career in the IT industry. Research IT certification guidesto identify which ones you will need in the areas of security, storage, project management, cloud computing, computer forensics, and more.
  • Build your network and brand yourself. It’s important to start building your network once you’ve decided to be a consultant. A strong contact base will help you connect with the resources needed in order to find work. Also, position yourself as an expert, someone that an organization cannot do without. Now combine both a professional network and social network to help you spread with word faster.
  • Target your market and location. Determine what type of facility or organization you want to work with, and once decided, think about location. Do you want to work remotely or on site? Are you open to relocation or a commute via airline to and from work?
  • Decide whether to go solo or engage with a consulting and staffing firm. If you have the entrepreneurial spirit and want to approach a specific organization directly for a long-term gig, you might want to go solo. However, if you’re open to both short-term and long-term opportunities in various locations, a consultant staffing firm might be the answer.

The rise of a contingent workforce and gig economy will only continue to grow, and with it, much opportunity. A consultant or contractor has more freedom than a regular employee to circulate within their professional community and to take more jobs in more challenging environments. For healthcare facilities, a contingent workforce means acquiring the right HIT skills and expertise needed without the overhead costs associated with payroll benefits and administration. No doubt, a win-win situation for both.

Frank Myeroff is president of Direct Consulting Associates of Cleveland, OH.

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