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Recruitment and Hiring Strategies for IS Professionals

Clint Maun, CSP

The healthcare industry is experiencing major changes and transformations. This new business atmosphere puts requirements in place that strengthens the need for quality information technology. With the changes in Medicare reimbursement (PPS) and the need for documentation of clinical outcomes, today’s healthcare organization must have high quality information system (IS) personnel involved in system implementation.

While it is a tight employment market for quality IS personnel, it is possible to implement recruitment and retention strategies that have proved successful for other healthcare departments. First, it is important to lay out a definitive understanding or specific job description for the individual(s) to be hired. It would not prove successful to recruit an employee based upon a general job summary for this specialty position. Specifics in the job description should include:

  1. The understandings and capabilities related to the existing hardware/software products the organization utilizes.
  2. Specific knowledge and working experience in the healthcare field.
  3. An understanding of how to be part of a team process in the development of specific customized software or the programming necessary to achieve the organization’s success.
  4. The ability to be a consultant to the organization for IS issues/new programs.

The last two points above are important because if you’re to place faith in a specialty position for your information system, you need to have someone who can relate to individuals in your organization and be a member of the collaborative team. It would not be advantageous to recruit someone who has specialty knowledge on computer issues, but unable to relate their work to the needs of the organization. Specialists prove to be more suited to the organization’s success when they possess team/consultative skills.

In recruiting an IS professional(s), consider finding the best IS individual available and then have that person be a part of your team for recruiting future individuals. We believe you can’t make an assessment on the number of technically proficient professionals you need without having your key person involved in that decision. Your key person is the person you recruit first. Secure that individual and if you need additional personnel, they can be part of the recruitment effort. This provides another advantage in that the key person is probably aware of other organizations from which to recruit. Too often an organization trying to develop specialty positions, particularly IS personnel, will hire a number of individuals and then try to make them mesh together to meet the needs of the organization.

We believe it’s preferable to obtain the key individual first and build a base around that person. That way, you’re able to realize commonality of thought, capitalize on past business relationships, and have an understanding of the hardware/software needs to maximize your recruitment efforts.

How does an organization hire this key staff individual(s)? Develop a recruitment strategy that builds upon the successful relationships the organization already enjoys. The recruitment effort should include the utilization of key individuals to develop a profile for the specific IS position. Use talented people that are intimately involved with IS. This encourages a team approach to recruitment which provides a greater chance for success. This recruitment team can then develop the following areas of focus:

  1. Contacting other organizations or healthcare individuals with IS personnel.
  2. Soliciting vendors with successful IS personnel contacts.
  3. Considering past IS employment experiences where IS professionals could be recruited.
  4. Development of an understanding of the market place the organization serves and what the significant resources available in that marketplace are, such as:
    1. Technology newsletters.
    2. Successful newspaper advertising approaches.
    3. Other organizations in the market area that employ IS personnel.
    4. Colleges and universities that could be contacted for involvement in the recruitment effort (professors, university vendors, guest lectures)
    5. The appropriate understanding of compensation and benefit issues required for the recruitment effort.
  5. Development of a recruitment plan where members of the team are responsible for making key contacts in the marketplace, and with other organizations, etc. to expedite this recruitment effort.

We’re demonstrating that the recruitment effort has a greater chance of success by "fanning out" efforts. When you put this job in the hands of only one individual, either an executive or human resource professional, you limit the chances for success.

It is important for specialty recruitment that the organization develops a talented team of collaborators. We found this to be successful for multi-facility companies as well as independent facilities. Multi-facility companies have the advantage of securing a cross functional team from different locations. The independent facilities may rely upon making up this team with not only members of the organization itself, but also key affiliate relationships that the organization enjoys. This includes vendors, volunteer organizations, key board members and owner networks.

We recommend including an out of town approach to advertising and recruitment as well. The broader base you expand for recruitments, the greater chance you have for success. Set a budget, put a recruitment plan together and develop the team as you’re expanding the recruitment strategy to locations outside your market area.

We find success in recruiting to healthcare organizations because many IS individuals want to be part of a collaborative team rather than isolated as a specialist in a strictly technical business. They are looking for communication, conferencing, information sharing and consulting relationships and this gives them the chance to practice these interpersonal skills. This is the advantage that healthcare enjoys and it’s one that should be heightened in advertising and recruiting.

The key to an overall recruitment strategy is to make sure to outline:

  1. A specific timeline.
  2. A specific budget.
  3. A specific understanding of the job description required for the organization.
  4. Assignments that is specific to each member of the team as they "fan out" their efforts.
  5. A detailed way for the team to report back on its success.

Overall, we believe it is possible to show the IS professional that this is the organization they should be involved with because a team commitment has been shown in recruiting the individual to be part of that collaboration.

If you’d like more information on specifics of recruitment, selection, retention, click here.