Undoubtedly you have read or heard the phrase “19 billion dollars in the Stimulus Act for Healthcare IT” several times by now. I have discussed it myself many times on these pages. Most recent posts have centered on the HITECH act and what its goal of accelerating the implementation of EHRs and PHRs will do for the practice of medicine and public health.
But after all, the money is part of the “stimulus bill”, and I believe not enough has been said about how the provisions in The Act will stimulate entrepreneurship and create jobs. For years and across many industries there has been the fear that automation leads to job loss. To some extent that is true. The road to large scale adoption of EHRs is still a long one, but the fact of the matter is jobs will be created along the way. During his keynote address to the SAS Healthcare and Life Sciences Executive Conference, John Halamka — CIO of Harvard Medical School said moving to EHRs would save millions of dollars, make the healthcare system more efficient, and create as many as 50,000 new jobs. Some of those opportunities are being produced already.
A recent NY Times article said demand for “health informatics specialists” who have expertise in medical records, insurance claims, clinical care, and computer programming is rapidly increasing. In the article Don Detmer, president and CEO of the American Medical Informatics Association, said, “My rough estimate is that we need about 70,000 health informaticians” to meet EHR goals laid out in the stimulus bill.”
And that’s just the surface. Ultimately while many rail against bailouts for bankers and auto makers here is a part of the the stimulus package that is performing exactly the way it was meant to by: stimulating business, producing new innovations, and at the same time, improving health care for all Americans. The money allocated for EHRs and Healthcare IT seems to be the least mentioned part of President Obama’s stimulus package in the mainstream media, but the HITECH Act will be creating jobs in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and healthcare facilities in neighborhoods across the nation.
In the meantime we are already seeing growth opportunities for IT professionals, software engineers, and third party Application Service Providers who provide EMRs and other Healthcare IT solutions via the web. Oh yes, and there also seems to be new opportunity for journalists (and bloggers!) who can write about EHR matters…