I have been working in Health IT for more than 10 years and I sometimes get asked how to get started in this domain.
I think a good way to look at is first to check what job titles are available and then think about one’s own background and vision of what kind of work would you want to do in this domain. After that, you could look into what you need to read and study to get a jump start into the domain.
Job titles in Health IT
You will find some very similar job titles in Health IT than in other IT domains. Here are some examples which you could find:
- Business Analyst
- Product Owner
- Product Manager
- Software developer
- Project Manager
- Support engineer
- System specialist
- Integration specialist
- Solution Architect
You could then choose which kind of career path you are looking for. Perhaps you have a technical background and you want to start off as a programmer or a technical system specialist and work towards becoming an architect. Or perhaps you have a more functional understanding of how things work in the Healthcare domain and want to become a system specialist or a business analyst or consultant or trainer.
Functional career path
If you think of yourself as less technical perhaps a more functional career path is better suited for you. I could imagine a good starting position would be in a support role as a system specialist or admin user who knows how the healthcare IT product works and can give guidance.
For example as a HIS admin in a hospital, you would daily interact with end users giving them support and possibly work in IT projects as a specialist. Or if you are on the vendor side in support you might be receiving phone calls or tickets from the HIS admin’s and helping them out in problems they couldn’t solve themselves.
After working in a support role as a system specialist on the vendor side you might next move into a trainer role or a service delivery manager role or a business analyst role.
What and how I would study if I had only 28 days to become a professional
Whichever is your choice of career path you will need to get familiar with the terminology, standards and legislation used in healthcare IT. Most of the stuff is not specific to the country you want to work in, but the legislation aspect is country specific although there might be similarities.
28 days is only 4 weeks which I would divide into 6 days of study and 1 day off. That gives you 24 days to study stuff. It’s too little for going to school but you could read really a lot and take some online free courses. I would divide the study days in such a way that there are three types of time slots:
- Reading and taking notes
- Watching lecture/video content and taking notes
- Writing short essays based on the notes
- For me a very good way of learning is to write about what I read, I will remember it a lot longer. If you are going for the technical path then you could combine writing and trying stuff out like installing some open source stuff and sending HL7 messages etc.
It also makes sense to get familiar with the overall landscape. If you plan to work for a specific vendor you will want to know what products they have, who are the customers and what does the competition look like. Also getting familiar with what’s relevant right now makes sense. For example, if there are huge changes in progress from the regulation side or huge investments being done on the customer side you will need to know what’s on peoples mind just now.
General Terminology to get familiar with
Glossary of terms
- Patient Identity Feed
Healthcare IT news
Read some healthcare IT news to figure out what is relevant right now in the country you intend to work in. HIMMS (link to HIMMS web site) might be a great place to start to look for some information. However, I would recommend looking for good local news on Healthcare IT to see what’s going on in your country.
Figure out how Healthcare works in your country and what is changing
A relevant question to ask is who is paying for Healthcare. Is Healthcare funded by tax payers and are there mostly public healthcare providers or is it mainly private and patients have insurance policies covering their expenses.
Who is regulating healthcare in your country. Which are the organisations determining the rules and which are the relevant laws and guidelines that the providers need to follow.
Are there large national systems that the healthcare providers can or are forced to integrate with?
Is there new legislation coming out that will change things?
Find out who are the healthcare providers and vendors in your country
List all the companies or organizations providing Healthcare in your country and get a general feeling of what they do.
List all the major vendors that are providing Healthcare IT systems to the healthcare providers.