American Sentinel University Offers Tips to Health IT Professionals for Gaining Competitive Edge in the Job Market

In honor of National Health IT Week Sept. 15-19, 2014, American Sentinel University offers tips to health IT professionals for gaining a competitive edge in the healthcare marketplace.

A recent study by HIMSS shows demand for qualified health IT professionals are at an all-time high and a candidate’s skill set is the differentiating factor when filling a position. The skill most desired is that of an IT professional that has clinical workflow and terminology experience. American Sentinel offers specialization in healthcare, giving students a competitive advantage in the clinical IT environment.

“Technology and healthcare are two ever-changing industries. When the two collide it creates dynamic and exciting challenges for health IT professionals,” says Blair Smith, Ph.D., dean of Informatics-Management-Technology programs at American Sentinel University. “Electronic Medical Record (EMR) implementation has become the focal point and while it offers tremendous capabilities, it also creates a multitude of challenges for today’s IT professionals.  Those with in-demand skills will find themselves far more marketable.”

At the top of the list of challenges includes data management, application management, BYOD, patient privacy, HIPAA compliance, business intelligence and analytics and risk management.

The HIMSS study found that a higher percentage of respondents said that their organizations were interested in either training current employees or hiring recent graduates to fill needed positions, but 85 percent of respondents said their organizations faced barriers meeting their health IT needs. The majority cited a lack of qualified talent and 40 percent of those surveyed said they have open positions for which they cannot find qualified talent.

“Employers want to hire candidates with a health technology degree or certification that are prepared from day one on the job,” says Smith.  He says that it’s important for students to choose a degree program that is relevant to today’s industry needs.

Smith details some of the must-have skills health IT professionals need to make themselves more marketable in the current healthcare market.

“Look for programs that use immersive learning technology to foster program comprehension so that you can immediately apply what you learn to your work to positively impact your career,” he adds. “This will help differentiate you from other candidates and position yourself for a successful career in this fast-growing industry.”

Adaptability to Change. The ability to adapt to changing parameters is very important in healthcare because healthcare reform and government mandates are every-changing. “It’s important that health IT professionals be alert to the latest trends and be prepared for how it will impact your healthcare facility’s plan and goals,” says Smith.

Innovativeness. Healthcare is ever-evolving and health IT leaders will be challenged to think in new ways, adjust to change and lead change while creating new models of care.

“The phrase ‘innovate or die’ has never been more true than now as we enter the transformation that is pivotal to the future of healthcare worldwide,” says Smith.

Communications Savvy. The race for information is on and the ability for health IT professionals to be adept at finding new and better ways to communicate greater amounts of data and information will become increasingly important.

“The greatest leaders have always been able to rely on strong communication skills. Moving to a data driven culture presents new demands where the accelerated availability of data has rendered the decision of what is useful and what to communicate as important as how to communicate it,” adds Smith.

Applications Know-how. As health organizations begin looking for solutions to measure quality and standards, Smith says that IT professionals will play a critical role to guide them through the technology maze of applications and data management.

Security and Compliance. It is crucial that healthcare facilities be HIPAA-compliant and protect patient health records. This becomes more challenging for IT professionals when information is collected in one place and is required to move from one environment to another, says Smith. This has created a greater need for skills in the information management security side of healthcare.

Risk Management. Most healthcare organizations place a strong emphasis on data management and data security. This critical need to manage and protect this information has created a demand for IT professionals with this particular expertise.

“Healthcare needs IT professionals that can create the appropriate structure to govern security and know how to protect information and address breaches from a compliance perspective,” says Smith. He says that it is crucial that healthcare organizations have a plan in place to address the potential losses and breach of information and know how to be protected in the future.

Business Intelligence and Analytics. Business intelligence (BI) and analytics are a way for healthcare organizations to aggregate better quality information.

“The industry is currently putting greater emphasis on finding newer and more aggressive BI and analytics tools, which has created a higher demand for those IT professionals with these skills,” says Smith.

“As the healthcare industry continues to be a bright spot for the economy, IT professionals with the right education and skills will have ample opportunities to enjoy a long and promising career in this exciting field,” adds Smith.

Learn more about American Sentinel’s online informatics and technology programs at

American Sentinel University delivers accredited associate, bachelor’s master’s and doctorate-level online degree and certificate programs focused on the needs of high-growth sectors, including healthcare, informatics, management, technology and geospatial information systems. The university is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), which is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency and is a recognized member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. For required student consumer information, please visit:

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