A rocky year for healthcare's tech workers

As hospital and health systems continue to grapple with tighter margins, IT and tech workers have been paying the price. 

Many healthcare organizations have been laying off and outsourcing some of their IT workforce as their organizations look to reduce operating costs. 

Most recently, Pewaukee, Wis.-based ProHealth Care said it will transfer 835 employees to Optum. 

These employees include those working in the health system's revenue cycle management, information technology, informatics, analytics and inpatient care management. ProHealth said the move would reduce expenses for employee wages and benefits. 

Other health systems such as Owensboro (Ky.) Health and Brewer, Maine-based Northern Light Health made similar decisions earlier this year and transferred some of their IT employees to Optum.  

Tim Dentry, Northern Light Health's president and CEO, said the move would save the health system $1 billion over 10 years. 

Franciscan Alliance, the parent company of Mishawaka, Ind.-based Franciscan Health Indianapolis and Providence, R.I.-based Care New England have also decided to outsource IT employees to other companies. 

For example, Franciscan Alliance moved 61 employees from its information services department to an outside company and ended their employment with Franciscan. 

Meanwhile, Care New England outsourced some of its IT employees to health IT provider Kyndryl. Under the agreement, employees joined Kyndryl's team to provide technical services to the health system. 

Care New England said the move was made to reduce operating costs.

Will Landry, CIO of Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, based in Baton Rouge, La. told Becker's that this trend is here to stay. 

"We'll see more insourcing of application and business analysts and more outsourcing of traditional IT services," he said. 

Simultaneously, health systems are also laying off their IT workers. 

On Oct. 10, Cincinnati-based Bon Secours Mercy Health said it would be laying off some positions within its information and technology team. According to Bon Secours, the majority of these positions are open and unfilled roles.

Similarly, Somerville, Mass.-based Mass General Brigham said it would be shrinking its digital workforce. According to the health system, fewer than 20 active roles will be cut. 

"As care delivery changes, whether in a hospital or clinic setting or delivered remotely through in-person or virtual appointments, the tools and technology used to reach patients and support our mission also continues to evolve," the health system said in a statement shared with Becker's on Dec. 4. "As a result of these changes, we have undertaken a comprehensive review of our digital team … to better align our workforce resources and skills with our organizational needs and those of the communities we serve." 

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