"They're in such demand, and the highest quality consultants have a very strong niche," says Jeff Urban, an area vice president for MedSys Group, a Texas-based HIT consulting firm.
As a result, consultant pay has increased significantly.
"It's sustainable up to a point," Urban
says of the typical consulting fee, "but hospitals will have to create less demand, frankly, to lower those costs.
The situation has contributed to a revolving-door scenario in which people are brought on board and trained only to be lured away by the siren song of earning big bucks as a consultant.
"That scenario costs the hospital so much more than just bringing in consultants," Urban
says, noting that getting outsiders acclimated and trained can be expensive.
Even if a hospital comes across a candidate with suitable baseline skills and excellent growth potential, Urban
says it often takes too long before making a hiring decision.
In a talent pool with nearly nonexistent unemployment, that's usually a bad strategy.
"As they're hesitating, they're losing individuals," he
"Then the entire process has to start over again."
It's a cycle that actually creates more demand-and more work for providers.
"Once you've found the right person, pull the trigger and bring that person in because that's by far the most beneficial scenario," Urban
Whether delays happen because filling the position isn't the organization's highest priority or because someone on the hiring team wants to continue interviewing other individuals, many times the result will be that the candidate takes a job elsewhere, he
says educational institutions should be looking ahead to begin addressing the staffing gap because the time to fix today's problem already has passed.
"Right now, it's just weathering the storm," he
To produce more work-ready students, Urban recommends schools recruit clinicians to share their experiences in a classroom setting.
In-house learning opportunities also should be explored.
Suggest that clinicians participate in HIT training, which will help build teamwork and add another perspective.
"Bring in a clinician who understands the workflows and how it will affect the physicians, and have them work side by side with the HIT people," Urban