30 Statistics on Health IT Compensation for Hospitals

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The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act opened many doors for the world of health IT when it was signed into law on Feb. 17, 2009. The HITECH Act engaged hospitals, physicians and other healthcare providers to adopt and become meaningful users of health IT and electronic health records. In the three years since the law's passing, a wave of health IT jobs to manage the growing field has followed.

Hospitals have seen CIOs, CMIOs, CNIOs, EHR managers and a wealth of other health IT professionals accumulate onto their payrolls. Salaries and compensation figures for these various IT professionals have varied over the years, as well.

Bonnie Sermons, program manager and assistant professor of healthcare administration at Peirce College in Philadelphia, says before the recession took full effect in 2008, IT salaries, in general, were growing at a rapid clip. During the recession, there was a contraction in salaries, and more people were thrown into an aggressive market — but the federal government helped to quell the storm. "Healthcare reform was hitting the scene, and the government was beginning to issue grants and create opportunities through stimulus funding and health IT initiatives," Ms. Sermons says. "It opened up consulting positions, and the field is starting to open back up again with more competition."

Average salaries and compensation
According to the latest HIMSS Compensation Survey, the average salary of a healthcare IT professional is $114,176. The survey sample consisted of 2,218 healthcare IT professionals, ranging from hospital CIOs to associate staff level health IT employees. The survey also found males ($124,635) make $25,000 more annually than females ($98,872) on average.

2010 HIMSS Salary Figures for Healthcare IT Professionals

Professional Level

Average Salary

Senior Management (CIO, etc.)

$169,826

Department Head

$117,016

Other

$103,556

Management

$102,251

Staff

$77,372

Associate Staff

$70,993


John Fulcher, director of healthcare recruiting for Bauer Consulting Group, deals with health IT compensation trends for hospitals that have 300 to 350 beds. He says that most of the senior management positions, such as CIO, will offer salaries in the $150,000 to $200,000 range.

Bonuses also play a factor for the C-suite health IT professionals. Mr. Fulcher says bonuses can range between 10 percent and 20 percent of the base salary and are usually tied to EHR projects or other time-sensitive implementations. "Projects, timelines, cost savings and meeting deadlines are big parts of what drives bonuses of CIOs all the way down to directors of IT," he says.

Figures or factors affecting salary
Like any profession, there are several factors that may influence salary, health IT professionals included. The type of organization played a big role in health IT salaries, according to the 2010 HIMSS Compensation Survey. CIOs and all other health IT specialists earned the most within an integrated delivery system and the least at ambulatory surgery centers.

2010 HIMSS Salary Figures for Healthcare IT Professionals

Organization Type

Average Salary

Integrated Delivery System

$166,691

Consulting Firm

$124,958

Insurance/Payor

$124,430

Hospital (Part of Multi-Hospital System)

$109,993

Standalone Hospital

$109,459

Ambulatory Facility

$98,878


Ms. Sermons says every level of the healthcare chain is ramping up its health IT payroll in the face of healthcare reform, as health IT professionals at all organization types have been experiencing average salary increases of roughly 4.68 percent since 2009. "There's no question in the healthcare industry, the demand for primary and preventive care is expanding the organization's demand at every level, from hospitals to clinics," Ms. Sermons says. "Hospitals, in particular, will begin to see things that are diagnosed early — catching a disease in stage one — and that is going to lead to an increased need for technology-based predictors of illness and improved short-term care. That's where the IT folks come in."

A health IT professional's geographic region also plays a big role in salary. According to the HIMSS Compensation Survey, health IT specialists based in the West Coast are the highest earners of any geographic region. Mr. Fulcher adds other areas, such the Southeast, have lower salary ranges because the standard of living is cheaper than in other regions, such as the Midwest.

2010 HIMSS Salary Figures for Healthcare IT Professionals

Geographic Region

Average Salary

Pacific

$126,230

Mid-Atlantic

$123,983

New England

$122,962

East South Central

$115,758

South Atlantic

$112,650

East North Central

$107,094

Mountain

$106,800

West South Central

$100,524

West North Central

$90,569


Health IT salaries also vary depending on the length of the position. For example, Mr. Fulcher says there is a significant difference in compensation between contracted health IT professionals and permanent health IT employees. An EHR implementation manager may be contracted for six months to run a hospital's EHR project. Contractors can make up to 10 to 15 percent more than a permanent employee due to their condensed work schedule. In the Southwest and Midwest regions of the United States, EHR implementation contractors can earn between $35 and $45 per hour, while permanent employees are more likely to make $32 to $33 per hour, Mr. Fulcher says. Much like the physical geography of a region, the salaries depend on the years of experience and whether a hospital is a for-profit or not-for-profit enterprise. Health IT salaries are generally higher at for-profit hospitals.

Ms. Sermons says right now, the positions with the highest demand in the health IT sector are technicians, analysts, project managers and end-user support professionals who have certifications. As hospitals and health systems continue to implement their health IT systems at a rapid pace, they will need people who can automate processes, convert older paper data into actionable, electronic data and manage clinicians and staff members well along the way. "People need to understand operations but also be able to design, develop and implement solutions that use technology and replace redundant processes," Ms. Sermons says.

As for the future of C-suite health informatics, Ms. Sermons says hospitals need to look no further than the very nurses that drive the hospital's throughput everyday. "What we're starting to see is a lot of folks who were nurses and are now in information technology, or nurse informatics," Ms. Sermons says. "They are potential CIOs of the future since they have a background in working with physicians and understand IT. That's a slam dunk."

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University Medical Center of El Paso Physician Earned More Than $1M in 2009, Worked 109 Hours Per Week

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