How tech industry layoffs have affected healthcare CIOs' hiring practices

2022 has been a tough year for the tech industry. Tens of thousands of employees have been laid off. Companies from Big Tech to digital health startups have been hit hard by the market changes.

But has having all these newly unemployed tech workers been a boon for the healthcare industry, a sector where technology professionals are in high demand? Becker's reached out to several health system IT executives to ask:

Have the recent layoffs and hiring freezes in the tech industry made any difference in your IT hiring practices and successes?

Scott Arnold. Executive Vice President and CIO of Tampa (Fla.) General Hospital: Recent layoffs and freezes haven't really made a difference in our hiring success at Tampa General Hospital. We are having reasonable success even in a tight labor market. We see a fair number of boomerangs, we are in a population growth market, and we have beaches. The candidate pool is still competitive, and we rely on developing great leaders to attract great team members with strategies that focus on retention. Being flexible with work arrangements (hybrid, remote) has been a cornerstone of success.

Jim Brady, PhD. Chief Information Security Officer of M Health Fairview (Minneapolis): My view of this is that although there were layoffs, we haven't seen an abundance of candidates for higher-level/skilled positions. Filling key roles is still somewhat challenging. We also have seen candidates get other competitive offers during the recruitment phase. What's helped is being able to recruit remote workers from outside the state of Minnesota, which has widened the qualified candidate pool.

Saad Chaudhry. CIO of Luminis Health (Annapolis, Md.): While the recent events around staffing in the tech industry are certainly newsworthy and something that all CIOs — healthcare or otherwise — are keeping an eye on, I cannot say that I have modified my own practices in response to them specifically.

That being said, we are all doing some introspection currently with the downturn in the economy. We continue to see health system after health system with revenues in the red, quarter after quarter. Naturally, this has downstream effects on everything, including IT hiring. And so I'm trying to do more with less. And I'm doing this by managing expectations while trying to utilize the products we already pay for in a better way.

At my org, we are certainly applying greater scrutiny before nonclinical openings are posted and are reviewing similar nonclinical roles that have been posted for many months without being filled to see if we even need them. We are in a hybrid model for the workplace, so it does allow us greater flexibility in IT, where many of the roles can be done well remotely. This allows for a wider recruitment net that can be cast whenever we have a must-fill role.

Curtis Cole, MD. CIO of Weill Cornell Medicine (New York City): We are still growing rapidly and always searching for skilled and motivated people. Hiring does seem to be a bit easier, but I can't really measure how much the Big Tech layoffs have affected us. I do think more people realize the value of working in a sophisticated healthcare shop where the challenges are interesting and the business is steady.

We will never compete on the cappuccino machines and other fluff. We don't give stock options. And patients really don't like it if we move fast and break them. We attract people who care about our mission in a substantive way. I'm not sure how many of them were swept up in crypto and other flashier industries.

Mark Combs. CIO of Mon Health (Morgantown, W. Va.): No, there is no correlation that I can directly draw at this time. I am fortunate that we are fully staffed, and I credit that to the organization truly embracing remote work. As people in our industry know, we are quite often looking for very specific skill sets and backgrounds. Those skill sets and backgrounds are not always available throughout the general IT community, so even if a large tech company were to have major layoffs and free many qualified IT individuals, that still may not be a fit for our specific hiring needs.

Eric Gasser. Vice President of Information Systems and CIO of Wooster (Ohio) Community Hospital Health System: We have been successful in interviewing a couple of candidates from an organization that recently laid off their entire IT staff. So far we have filled one position from an employee laid off from this organization and are considering another. Most of these candidates found our openings online, and a few others we reached out to directly through LinkedIn.

Craig Richardville. Chief Digital and Information Officer of Intermountain Healthcare (Salt Lake City): No, not really. We are fortunate at Intermountain Healthcare to be able to attract some of the best and brightest in the field, and, also, to develop those who are considered to be the best and brightest. Having a mission of "helping people live the healthiest lives possible" helps attract applicants driven to be involved in that meaningful work.

Joe Susai. CISO of Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis): In the security world, the demand for skilled workers far exceeds the available talent pool. Also, the recent layoffs and hiring freezes were more on IT staffing, and security roles as I understand were not impacted.

Jerry Vuchak. Senior Vice President and CIO of Children's Hospital & Medical Center (Omaha, Neb.): We have really been blessed with very low tech turnover at our organization. I believe that is because we have created a culture which puts people first and encourages collaboration as one team. We are very focused on team member engagement and satisfaction. 

We have a community in Omaha that is committed to developing technology talent, so when we do recruit for open or new positions, we have a great, diverse candidate slate locally. The pandemic has pushed us to be flexible in our remote-working arrangements and hiring practices recruiting from outside the Omaha area as well. We have seen little effect of the layoffs and freezes in the tech industry to date.

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