Health Industry Struggles to Retain Talent

Physician's Money Digest, Spring 2013, Volume 15, Issue 1

In addition to a physician shortage, the health care industry has a growing need for information technology professionals, according to a Towers Watson survey. In particular, hospitals need more IT professionals as they have to meet electronic health record meaningful use requirements that take effect in 2014.

The 2013 Health Care IT Survey Report revealed that two-thirds of health care employers reported difficulties recruiting experienced IT workers. The report includes responses from both employers and employees.

One trouble in hiring new IT professionals is a disconnect between employers and IT employees regarding what brings employees to a health care organization. While employees rated “job security” and “base pay/salary” as the top one and two drivers of attraction, respectively, employers ranked those same factors as just fourth and eighth, respectively. Instead, employers ranked “challenging work” and “reputation of the organization as a great workplace” as the top two drivers of attraction.

A slightly smaller, but equally important, issue is retaining newly hired IT employees. More than half (52%) of health respondents said retaining Epic-certified IT professionals is a problem, while 30% of IT employees said they were likely to leave their current position within the next two years.

The health care industry is also having trouble retaining physicians, who, now that the stock and housing markets have recovered are looking to move onto other jobs. The physician turnover rate hit a new high, according to a March report by Cejka Search and the American Medical Group Association.

Employers are taking new measures to retain both physicians and IT employees, such as offering a signing bonus or education loan forgiveness. Among IT employees, increasing the base pay rate for new hires was moderately/very effective for 66% of health employers, according to the Towers Watson survey. Meanwhile, offering referral bonus to existing employees was less so, with just 26% of respondents saying the action was moderately/very effective.