Specialized Skills for the Healthcare IT Technician – Part 3

healthcare-it-3

Here is the third and final part of my healthcare IT skills series.  This series was meant as an overview to guide an IT consultant/small business IT provider in the proper direction to get started in the healthcare IT industry.  We are by no means finished on the theme of healthcare IT, but to wrap up this three part overview series here are few more areas of expertise that the savvy HIT consultant should possess.  If you need to catch up here is Part 1 and Part 2.

Database Administration

Healthcare facilities large and small will need someone to manage their database(s).  The larger hospitals will obviously have large and complex databases and it’s crucial to make sure these databases are secure, data is entered correctly, and that the database remains fully functional. Knowledge of Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle applications will be useful.  Any expertise in writing SQL queries, data modeling, database design, and management will go a long way in healthcare IT.

Networking

Obviously a basic working knowledge of networking will be useful in any tech job.  Depending on the type of healthcare facility you are working in will determine how much specialized knowledge in networking you should have.  Larger facilities and hospital will usually have a dedicated network administrator so you probably wouldn’t need to specialize in networks or worry about digging into their networking infrastructure much, the network admin will handle that.  In the small and medium sized facilities most on-site or contracted IT personnel would need to be more of an IT generalist, so the more networking expertise the better.

Healthcare IT Certifications

A certification is a good way to learn about a field of interest in a structured way as well as validating the knowledge you have.  There are a few certifications on the market now that are specific to IT technicians and IT professions in the healthcare industry.

  • Health IT Certification: They offer three:
    • CPEHR (Certified Professional in Electronic Health Records)
    • CPHIT (Certified Professional in Health Information Technology)
    • CPHIE (Certified Professional in Health Information Exchange)

Terminology

This will probably be the toughest part for the technician to handle since it doesn’t have much to do with technology!  Knowing some of the most common healthcare acronyms and terminology will go a long way in making you a better HIT consultant.  It will help you communicate better with the clinical staff you’ll be dealing with on a daily basis.  If you thought that us techies speak a different language, wait until you talk to clinicians and Health Information Management personnel!   Here are some common acronyms and terms you should know (some are USA based government acronyms, others should be universal):

ACO Accountable Care Organization
NHIN National Health Information Network
HIPAA Health Information Portability Accountability Act
ARRA American Reinvestment and Recovery Act
CMS Center for Medicaid/Medicare services
HITECH Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act
NIST National Institute of Standards and Technology
HHS United States Health and Human Services
ONC Office of the National Coordinator (for Health Information Technology)
PHI Protected Health Information
EMR/EHR Electronic Medical Record/Electronic Health Record
PACS Picture Archiving Communication System
HL7 Health Level Seven
ASC Ambulatory Surgery Center
IP Inpatient
OP Outpatient
CPOE Computerized Physician Order Entry
PCMH Patient Centered Medical Home
CDW Clinical Data Warehouse
DICOM Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine
ePHR electronic Personal Health Record
MPI Master Patient Index

Those are probably the most common terms you’ll come across, but it’s by no means an exhaustive list.  For a complete list of terms take a look at the HIMSS meaningful use acronym list here.

The convergence of information technology and medical devices (informatics) poses a challenge for IT professionals but offers great opportunity for those who can meet the challenge by specializing in key areas.  Most of the technical skills that you already have will port over to healthcare IT, but focusing on those unique healthcare areas will set you apart from the run-of-the-mill IT professional.  The skills and knowledge presented in this three part series should serve you well as a healthcare IT consultant, a managed service provider, or an HIT technician working on-site at a healthcare facility.



Chuck Romano

About the Author

Chuck Romano
More articles by me...
Chuck Romano is a business and technology professional with over 9 years experience in document imaging and 11 years in computer repair. Chuck provides results driven expertise in fields such as Healthcare IT, document imaging/workflow systems, marketing, and management.

Comments (6)

  • The next certification I’m getting is the CompTIA Healthcare IT Technician cert! Didn’t know it existed. Over the years I’ve found that certifications don’t mean much to our clients, and they play a minimal, nearly non-existent role in helping us get new clients. But they can sure help technicians focus on, learn about, and become experts in certain tech fields – that’s really the only reason we at Teknyka Tech Support get these certifications!

  • Please continue to provide these resources as it is a valuable reference. I would note that CPOE is not Computerized Physician Order Entry as listed, but is Computerized Provider Order Entry. This term better explains the process as physicians are not the only one authorized it utilize the CPOE. Otherwise, this was a very complete and good reference. Thank you.

  • Very informative article. Computer repair will be soon resumed to data recovery and maybe to healthcare IT.

  • Benjamin S says:

    I checked CompTIA’s site for self study materials but found nothing, nor on Amazon or Border (bye bye borders).

    Could you provide information on where to find such guides?

  • Chuck Romano says:

    @Canby: Right on about certifications. It’s all about the knowledge you gain from them and what you do with that knowledge.

    @Blayne: I stand corrected, CPOE is technically “Computerized Practitioner Order Entry” according to HIMSS. However, so many people refer to it as “Physician” and most of the time physicians are using these systems, plus a quick search of CPOE shows tons of sites saying “physician.” It’s not really wrong, just as you said, “more correct” to use practitioner.

    @Benjamin: Some CompTIA partners are offering training bootcamps for the certificate, but there are no study guides as of yet. According to my contacts these are in the works. This is a brand new cert so it will take a little time to gain some traction.

  • For people in the US, the HITECH Workforce development program is a good training opportunity and the HIT Pro certification exam goes along with it.

    http://healthit.hhs.gov/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=1432&mode=2