Health IT: Interview with Prof. Gerald Elysee
Q&A Interview with Prof. Gerald Elysee, Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Health Information Technology Programs
What is Health IT and why is it such a fast-growing field?
Health Information Technology or Health IT is one of the fastest growing fields in the healthcare industry. Health IT refers to the use of technologies to store, share, and analyze health information to improve patient care. This growth is being fueled in large part by federal regulations which mandate that healthcare organizations such as hospitals adopt and use Health IT in a meaningful way in order to enhance healthcare quality while containing rising costs. These mandates create tremendous growth in hiring demand and earning potential for professionals who can assist healthcare organizations with the planning, developing, implementing, integrating, and managing Health IT systems.
Did you know?
BFIT is the only college in Massachusetts to offer an associate degree as well as a bachelor's degree in Health Information Technology.
What are the job opportunities in Health IT?
Hiring in Health IT is expected to grow by 22% nationally by 2022 (U.S. Bureau of Labor), and 26% in Massachusetts by 2020 (MA Labor and Workforce Development). Since 2012, Boston has experienced Health IT job growth as high as 61%. The majority of Health IT professionals are being hired by hospitals, large medical centers, and Health IT vendors. The job market is also expanding into government agencies, health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, consulting organizations, mental health, outpatient and long-term care facilities.
What are the potential starting salaries in Health IT?
Full-time yearly salaries for graduates with an Associate Degree in this field range from $37,900 to $56,600 a year, or $19 to $23 per hour for entry-level positions such as:
- Clinical Application Coordinators
- Health Information Technicians
- Electronic Health Records Coordinators
- Project Support Specialists
Graduates with a bachelor's degree have a wider range of opportunities, and can earn between $52,000 to $82,000 a year or $26 to $41 per hour, working as:
- Electronic Health Records Analysts
- Implementation Support Specialists
- Information Security Analysts
- Application Integration Coordinator
Why is Health IT so important in the health care industry?
The healthcare industry is currently facing several structural problems involving care quality, access, and cost, commonly referred to as the “iron triangle of healthcare." Health IT is critical in the healthcare industry because it is a key solution to these problems as it can enable:
- Improvement in the quality of healthcare
- Reduction of medical errors
- Reduction of duplicative services
- Control of healthcare costs
IT holds tremendous potential for improving medical practice by equipping clinicians with complete and accurate patient health information wherever and whenever it’s needed in a secure manner, using Health IT applications, such as Electronic Health Records (EHR), Health Information Exchange (HIE), Health Level 7 (HL7) interfaces, e-Prescribing (e-RX), Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE), Clinical Decision Support (CDS), and others. Unlike the traditional paper-based systems, these applications enable clinicians to make better prevention, diagnosis, and treatment decisions, leading to reduction in harmful medical errors, and improvement in clinical and economic outcomes.
Why is it important to have a college degree in this field?
A college degree is important in this field because it equips students, not only with the above technology skills, but also with critical thinking skills, communication (oral and written), management (people and projects), facilitation, teamwork skills, as well as a solid knowledge of the medical language, regulations, and practices. Because college graduates possess multiple skillsets, employers prefer to hire them over non-college graduates. Due to the transferability of these advanced skills, a college degree offers a wider variety and increasing number of job opportunities, and higher income and advancement potential. With these in mind, Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology offers two degree programs in this field. They are:
What makes BFIT’s HIT program special or unique?
BFIT is the only college in Massachusetts to offer an Associate Degree and Bachelor's Degree in Health IT. Health IT programs utilize a blend of classroom studies, hands-on labs, individualized attention, and field experience to provide a practical college education that fully prepares students to be competent Health IT professionals with multiple skillsets.
The unique programs feature:
- Inter-disciplinary and advanced skills that health care employers are looking for.
- Instruction in Electronic Health Records (EHRs), Health Information Exchange (HIE), HL7, computer networking, healthcare databases and statistics applications, software development life cycle, personnel and project management principles.
- Instruction in healthcare compliance, Meaningful Use and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations, healthcare language and practices through courses in medical terminology and coding, human anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology and pharmacology.
- Team-based project assignments to create an environment for students to collaborate, learn, and practice in a unified way both, their technical and soft skills, in order to improve their teamwork, project management, facilitation, and communication skills (oral and written).
- Hands-on skills through lab exercises that use Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems and Optum EncoderPro medical coding software, typically found in healthcare organizations.
- Guest speaker presentations to bring a real-world perspective about the HIT field to the classroom.
- Practical field experience through internship in a suitable hospital department in order to enhance their chances of career success.