SI Review: September 2010

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My Take: A "War for Talent", SI Review September 2010

Though the healthcare bill was fought long and hard, the focus within the healthcare industry is now moving towards delivering more services to more people. This means more medical information, needed more quickly, and without duplication or error. As a result, there should soon be a dramatic increase in the hiring of people with technical skills in information technology services, clinical development, and medical and regulatory affairs.

Because legislation will push the healthcare industry to deliver more benefits to more people, at lower cost, the healthcare industry will look for the benefits that can accrue from efficiencies and cost reductions in administrative systems. Technology should help the industry achieve more streamlined operations for more patients. Out of necessity, there will be greater use of information technologies, opening up opportunities for the best technology professionals, interested in healthcare solutions, to pursue their ideas in all kinds of technology and software companies. In demand will be technology skills that will address the key issues confronting healthcare -- everything from ergonomic design skills, to software development skills and even the easy-to-use technologies such as touch screens that can be mastered quickly, with minimal errors.

The Challenge Is to Deploy IT Solutions to Healthcare
People who develop information technologies are found in Silicon Valley and the "Silicon Alleys" in and around major metropolitan areas such as Boston and New York, as well as in sophisticated user organizations from coast to coast. The challenge will be to integrate the advanced solutions they develop within the healthcare information technology industry, and to develop and grow IT professionals in the healthcare user community who can readily deploy these solutions. Highly skilled IT professionals will be sought out and coupled with the solutions providers, investors and entrepreneurs who are developing and bringing to market information technology solutions that currently don't exist.

At the same time, physician and healthcare administrative workloads will be increasing. Medical tests, procedures and all the new prescription choices and solutions will be expanding. New drugs, new generics, medical devices, and diagnostic procedures, as well as treatment and therapeutic solutions, will now be brought to the forefront to service all the new entrants into "mainstream healthcare." There will also be increased use of preventive protocols. These are quite different from the "emergency room medicine tunnels" that had served a large segment of the previously uninsured population. Additional "paper trails" will be created, and administrative files and information exchanges will grow geometrically. In essence, more than 30 million previously uninsured people will now have to be included in the healthcare delivery system. Without professional job growth and technological enhancements, this rapid patient growth would be overwhelming to existing systems and infrastructure.

Additional Clinical and Regulatory Affairs People Soon to be in Demand
Furthermore, there should also be an increase in demand for healthcare professionals with skills beyond the information technologies arena. We most likely will see an increase in the need for clinical development and regulatory and medical affairs people. These companies will increasingly have to work with governmental agencies to bring new pharmaceuticals, biologics and medical devices to market quickly and efficiently.

Unlike IT skills, which often have been transferred from industry to industry, the "pipeline" for clinical development, medical affairs and regulatory affairs professionals has been much more finite while demand for their services should be increasing. In addition, their employers will be looking for new ideas about how to leverage these functions with better tools, as well as exploring outsourcing and alternative strategies. Jobs that currently do not exist will be created, and professionals will be needed to fill them. People with the proper skills can look forward to a period of time in which they can leverage their skills in the marketplace. The "war for talent' will be over the best and brightest.



Michael Zinn
has over 30 years' experience in the executive search field. Prior to forming Michael D. Zinn and Associates, Inc., in March 1988, Zinn held positions with two of the world's foremost retainer-based executive search organizations.

Zinn received his MBA degree from St. John's University (New York) in 1977 and his bachelor's degree from Ithaca College in 1975.

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