The life of an IT professional is one of constant evolution. To stay competitive in an environment where certain skills can become obsolete in a matter of years, IT professionals must be able to continuously expand their base of knowledge. Seeking certifications, picking up secondary degrees, and self-training in new skills are par for the course, and help IT pros market themselves to the wide range of industries that are hungry for tech talent.
What does an IT Manager do in Health Information?
Information technology (IT) managers oversee their organizations’ network and data security and plan, coordinate and direct technology. This planning and coordination can include learning about new technology available and analyzing an organization’s computer needs to recommend possible upgrades. IT managers help determine the technology goals of an organization and are responsible for implementing changes to meet those goals. Some of those changes include developing programs to keep employees aware of security threats and working with executives and management to implement security policies.
In healthcare, for example, this type of manager is vital. As technology expands, more aspects of healthcare have become dependent on it. Patient records, for example, are nearly all digital and stored in a facility’s network system. Managers in health information management (HIM) technology ensure the network is secure so patient records can’t be compromised.
HIM managers are responsible for the maintenance and security of all patient records within a healthcare facility. They must stay up to date with evolving information technology, laws regarding health information systems and must ensure that databases are complete and accessible only to authorized personnel.
HIM managers also perform managerial tasks like determining staffing levels, overseeing the work of employees, assessing the costs and benefits of new projects and negotiating with vendors. Few managers carry out all of these duties on both the managerial and technological sides of the job. The specific duties are determined by the size and structure of the employer, such as a physician’s private practice or a hospital in a metropolitan area.
The Importance of Cybersecurity in Healthcare
Healthcare data is an attractive target for would-be hackers. They can use stolen information for identity theft, fraud and other illicit activities. Beyond that, healthcare information is supposed to be confidential, and unauthorized access is a breach of patient trust.
Despite knowing the importance of security, breaches can happen, and it falls to IT managers to curtail such breaches. In 2016 alone, hackers accessed some 27 million patient records illegally. In February of that year, hackers infiltrated Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles with ransomware. Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a ransom is paid. The hospital reportedly spent a week locked out of its systems, unable to access patient records or care plans. After trying to break the ransomware and failing, hospital officials agreed to pay 40 bitcoins, an Internet currency intended to be untraceable, which were worth about $17,000.
IT Manager Requirements and Career Outlook
Most positions in healthcare IT management require several years of experience in a related job. Many health information IT managers, for example, start out as lower-level IT personnel, such as health information technicians, to gain experience working with technology prevalent in the field.
Experience isn’t the only thing needed to become a healthcare IT manager; candidates must have a bachelor’s degree, which are commonly in computer programming, software development or mathematics. More employers are moving to requiring a master’s degree, as well. Some pursue an MBA, a degree that focuses on effective business and management techniques. Candidates will gain a considerable competitive advantage, though, if they earn an MHA in Health Information Technology. Concordia University, Nebraska’s fully online health information master’s program has no required residency and can be earned in as little as two years.