Wanted: IT staffers with vertical industry chops

Fast-changing business processes and ever-mounting government and industry regulations are complicating day-to-day operations -- and making deep vertical industry expertise a must-have.

By , Computerworld |  Networking

"Getting technical people to understand regulations is tough because it's a field they're not interested in," says Laurie Anne Buckenberger, Continuum's assistant vice president of corporate IT and a nurse practitioner. Clinicians, on the other hand, live and breathe healthcare regulations from the time they enter the field.

To retain certification, hospitals are required to follow and regularly report on 157 different quality measures. "On your first job as a staff nurse, you're taught about the requirements of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations," Buckenberger says. "It's also embedded in you from the time you start [nursing] school."

Johanna Ambrosio speaks with IT leaders at this year's Premier 100 event to find out what types of people they are hiring to work in IT. More often, IT is going beyond technology skills to find the right pieces for their organizations.

That's why "you can't do it without clinical people," says Moroses. It's also why a clinical degree is a requirement for members of the applications support team at Continuum.

The need to work quickly is another key factor driving the clinical requirement, which Moroses says evolved over time.

"Before, programmers and analysts were separate. Then we took the IT person and put them in the business unit and called them a business analyst," Moroses says. "But at the end of the day, you need one person who gets it and does it. In healthcare, you need that clinical component and technical component. You have to eliminate the translation requirement because of the speed of business."

Consequently, Continuum has broadened the reach of its IT recruiting efforts. Company representatives now visit nursing schools to try to persuade students to consider careers in IT (see story below).

A nurse with firsthand clinical experience would, for example, be uniquely qualified to explain why a smaller, lighter tablet would be better than a laptop for a home healthcare provider, says Moroses. "In order to help the industry transform at this quick pace, you need this clinical part in IT," he says. "The [companies that] can transform the quickest [will have a] competitive advantage."

"It's hard for a pure IT person to understand what emergency departments and other clinicians need," he adds. "Yes, they need mobility, but not just mobility. They need mobility in certain ways."

IT-plus credentials can give IT staffers instant credibility in the eyes of users, says Moroses.

"If we're having a conversation about a system upgrade or bringing in new functionality, you need a nurse or physician talking to a nurse or physician," says Moroses.

Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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