Just How Stressed Are Professionals in Health IT?

Guest post by Tim Cannon, vice president of product management and marketing, HealthITJobs.com 

Tim Cannon
Tim Cannon

All jobs can be stressful at times, but anyone who works in health IT will tell you that their job is considerably stressful. In fact, 55 percent of health IT professionals surveyed in The 2016 Health IT Stress Report, by my employer HealthITJobs.com, said they are at least frequently or constantly stressed.

Among those surveyed, 38 percent rated their stress intensity as high or extremely high, while 45 percent said their stress occurs on a frequent or chronic basis.

What’s so stressful about health IT and what impact does it have on employees? Here’s a closer look at the findings and what they mean for professionals in the field:

Work management causes stress

What stresses health IT professionals out the most? Constantly changing priorities. Among respondents, 39 percent rated changing priorities as the top stressor. What’s more, 45 percent said they have little or no control over deadlines and timelines for accomplishing project milestones.

Although project management and their lack of control in the process stresses employees out, they don’t blame their manager for the problems. Only 15 percent listed managers as a top source of stress. In fact, respondents actually have great relationships with their managers, describing them as supportive, smart, and trustful.

With such supportive managers, health IT professionals should turn to them when work gets hectic. Instead of struggling with stress on your own, talk it out with your manager. Let them know when changing priorities are a problem, and talk to them about working together to set project timelines. If a deadline seems unreasonable, give your input and suggestion for a more practical timeframe for completion.

Workloads are unreasonable

After changing priorities, the workload itself gives health IT professionals the most stress — 35 percent of respondents rated it as a top stressor. An additional 35 percent of professionals said they have an unrealistic amount of work to do in the time given. And those who said they are frequently stressed were more likely to say their workload was too much to handle.

What’s bogging down workloads? Meetings could be the culprit. According to the survey, 27 percent of professionals spend 11 or more hours in meetings each week, and those who are frequently stressed are more likely to do so.

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Mitigating Risks In the Wake of Security and Data Breach

Guest post by Tim Cannon, vice president of product management and marketing, HealthITJobs.com.

Tim Cannon
Tim Cannon

A study, early this year, found that more IT employers are offering their employees flexible work options. But in the wake of security and data breach, is it worth the risk in health IT?

A report published by the Ponemon Institute in September 2014 revealed 43 percent of U.S. companies surveyed experienced a security breach in the past year, up from 33 percent in 2013. Healthcare organizations are a prime target for cyberattacks, according to a report from the Identity Theft Resource Center. Health and medical companies suffered the most breaches in 2014, accounting for 42.5 percent of reported cyberattacks.

Here are some of the biggest risks health organizations face with a virtual health IT workforce, and how to keep patient data safe:

Email risks
Hillary Clinton recently came under fire for using a personal email address for government business during her time as secretary of state. Not only did her exclusive use of personal emails violate federal record-keeping laws and practices, but also put sensitive information at risk. Her actions remind us that employees are using their personal email accounts for work, whether their employers are aware or not.

Health IT professionals who work from different locations and from different devices could be sharing unencrypted data over their personal emails without password protection. They could be sending work emails from a personal account on their phones or home computers because it’s more convenient than connecting to their work accounts.

Set clear policies on email use and remind employees of the importance of password protection when sending sensitive information.

Network vulnerabilities
To accommodate the remote workforce, networks and cloud-based data storage systems can be accessed from any location. But more employees using the network and accessing data from different places makes it easier for hackers to access the information as well.

Remote workers usually operate out of their home offices. This means they are using their home network, which is usually much less secure than the office network. Sometimes, they also work out of Starbucks and other public spaces that have unsecure Wi-Fi networks. These places also do not have standard security protocols, which means all the data is unencrypted and easy for hackers to steal.

The underlying software of the network needs to be secure, no matter where employees are working from. Securing cloud-based systems is also extremely important. Making sure your servers are up to date with service packs and software updates is critical to close potential holes in your network. Having a strong virtual private network is critical to protect patient information and other sensitive data. Invest in highly protected providers, encrypt sensitive data, and diversify your passwords to avoid security breaches.

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