Future Skills in Health IT: Workflow and Learning to Learn

[This post is in preparation for the Friday #HITsm tweetchat, Future Skills in Health IT, hosted by @rmacklinrecruit, thank you very much Rachel! I’m attending Cloud Develop 2016 on Friday, so I prepared my answers in advance and published them in this post. (I’ll try to participate from the conference during lunch though!)]

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Last week I wrote about creating an informal curriculum to guide health IT social media efforts. In that post I wrote about my design of a health IT curriculum based on my own educational background (Accountancy, Industrial Engineering, Artificial Intelligence, and Medicine). During curriculum design one tries to both predict and create the future. This is highly relevant to todays #HITsm chat on future skills in health IT.

T1: What skill sets will be in highest demand over the next few years? #HITsm

The two most important skills in demand over the next few years will be understanding healthcare workflow (especially how to adapt health IT to healthcare workflow), and the skill of self-directed, purposeful learning (learning to learn). Workflow is key because it is the bridge between health IT soft skills (understanding users) and health IT hard skills (understanding IT). Learning to learn, creating your own informal curriculum (a learning plan), to guide your professional development, is a meta-skill that leads to specific valuable health IT skills.

T2: How can candidates gain new expertise to position themselves for these roles? #HITsm

These are not roles. They are skills. Roles will continue to come and go. However, moving from role to role is a metaskill (a skill about skills). That said, I see particular demand for the equivalent of Chief Workflow Officer (AKA Chief Process Officer), plus other process-centric & workflow-oriented roles lower in the personnel food chain chain.

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In keeping with Topic 1, I also see particular demand for human resource officers who can, in effect, design constantly evolving curricular for health IT professionals, from helping craft learning plans to perhaps even entire corporate universities.

T3: Technical skills aside, what soft skills will be most important to hiring managers? #HITsm

In my humble opinion, as an educator observing ex-students, working with C-level hospital executives, and growing a start-up EHR company, the three most important health IT soft skills are empathy, ambition, and charisma. Empathic programmers understand users and help them do their jobs. Empathic managers understand personnel and help them adapt and thrive. Ambition causes staff to take reasonable risks and persist in the face of obstacles and adversity. (Technically, ambition may not be a soft skill, but it certainly affects interpersonal relations.) Charisma is required to get people to buy into your vision and join your crusade.

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By the way, I’ve rarely seen anyone with all three soft skills in abundance. This is why you’ll often seen several health IT professionals work as a team, in successive organizations. One person is charismatic and driven. They make difficult decisions. They can’t afford to be particularly empathic. However, they often work closely with someone who keeps their antenna up, sensing the mood of co-workers, smoothing some of the rough edges, and some times even talking the charismatic leader into being just a bit less ambitious when it strategically serves shared purposes.

T4: How can leaders build their teams in a competitive candidate market? #HITsm

By competitive I assume you mean competition for the talented based on remuneration. But talented people want one thing even more than money. They want the opportunity to express, and be acknowledged for, their talent. Build a vision. Show the way. Remove obstacles. Get out of the way. Word will spread.

T5: How will the role of a successful CIO change as we enter the post-EHR era? #HITsm

CIOs will increasingly become Chief Process Officers (Chief Workflow Officer), as they struggle to optimize EHR workflow and to connect other health IT workflows. Key to success, up and down the management/technical stack, is health workflow IT literacy, as I’ve written about previously. My answers to questions T1 through T4 provide ideas about how this can be achieved.

The following are past tweets leading to interesting posts and threads about the idea of Chief Process/Workflow Officer…

The majority of the cost of health IT is in workflow configuration, customization, and management. For this reason, the evolution of CHI into CPO/CWO is inevitable.

Also see…

As I said, I’ll be tweeting about #CloudDevConf before, during, and after the #HITsm tweetchat. Look for my tweets!

P.S. If I interested you in the idea of creating a curriculum to guide your professional development, check out my last week’s #HITsm post!


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