No. 1 challenge for CIOs: Tight tech labor market forces ‘a salary reckoning’

By Giles Bruce for Becker’s Hospital Review

IT staffing remains a major challenge for hospital systems, as they compete with tech companies for skilled employees in the midst of a tight labor market, several CIOs told Becker’s.

Workforce was identified as the No. 1 health IT issue, according to a recent poll of hospital tech executives by Becker’sEd Kopetsky, CIO of Stanford Children’s Health in Palo Alto, Calif., said this labor restructuring is being driven by droves of workers fleeing their jobs during the pandemic’s “great resignation,” coupled with more people wanting to work full time away from the office.

Here are some of the IT leaders’ responses, lightly edited for clarity:

Pavan Attur, CIO of Hudson Regional Hospital in Secaucus, N.J.: “There is a lot of competition for workforce during this time of work-from-home/hybrid flexibility and much higher-paying jobs.”

Kate Pierce, CIO and chief information security officer of North Country Hospital in Newport City, Vt.: “We are focusing on developing a strategy around recruiting and retaining talented IT and security staff. While I’m sure that this last topic resonates with many organizations, as a critical access hospital, today’s environment is especially challenging. There is a significant shortage of talented IT and security staff nationwide, and we are not able to compete with larger organizations for these essential resources, so we are forced to think of innovative ways to fill this need.”

William Walders, CIO of Rockledge, Fla.-based Health First: “The competition for recruitment and retaining talent isn’t just in the clinician and provider communities of healthcare — it has bled into the health IT domains as well. We’re seeing the highest vacancy rates in years. Salary expectations and market forces have increased labor budgets by more than 25 percent, and senior-level IT leaders are being poached by other industries for two to three times their current salaries. Healthcare was thrust into the digital age with modern tools and strategies. Healthcare is catching up to the digital giants it envied, forcing a salary reckoning upon us.”

James Wellman, chief digital and information officer of Findlay, Ohio-based Blanchard Valley Health System: “Workforce challenges are increasing, and we are experiencing turnover at an unprecedented level. Additionally, we must support a new hybrid support group that crosses the entire organization. IT plays a critical role in workforce engagement with new associates who may never leave their home, and how we represent the organization will be a key factor in their job satisfaction.”

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