A look at the HIT labor force in 2017

Aug. 29, 2017
HMT polled its readers over the summer for our annual salary survey. The health information technology field is seeing rapid growth, due to a number of factors such as population health, telehealth, and more, so we wanted to get a better feel for who our readers are. Below we take a look at details, such as what roles our readers fill, where they work, and how well they are compensated. We also reveal results on job security, average income, and more. Keep reading for some interesting results.
How do you compare?

Our readers vary, from CEOs to CIOs, administrators to audit managers … we have quite an assorted audience. The HIT industry is diverse, so it only makes sense that our readers hold all sorts of different titles.

Forty-five percent of our readers classify themselves as other IT positions, last year 61% reported themselves as other IT. Nineteen percent this year reported themselves as a vice president of clinical informatics—perhaps there has been an increase in organizations now filling this position (Figure 1). Our survey shows that salaries were higher in 2016 as opposed to 2017 except for those with CFO roles, administrator roles, and “other.” This is unsurprising, considering the state of the economy and the uncertainty in government concerning healthcare.

Figure 1. Average salary by position

Next, let’s take a look at education and gender (Figure 2). Those with post-graduate degrees earn the most, which is no surprise. Those with bachelor’s degrees come in second. Then things get a little more interesting; this year we reported those with high school educations earning more than those with associate degrees. In IT, skills are extremely important and due to more millennials (who grew up using computers) entering the workforce, many choose to go directly into the field and learn on the job as opposed to going to college. It seems as if men are making more than women across the board this year, as opposed to last year when women with a high school education made more than men.

Figure 2. Average salary by education and gender

Let’s also take a look at the average salary regardless of gender. The average salary reported in the 2017 salary survey is $109,274—not taking bonuses or benefits into consideration.

This year, we asked those who were surveyed if they were satisfied with their overall compensation. We found an equal number (27.5%) agreed and disagreed about compensation. Of the remaining responses, 26.1% were neutral—neither agree or disagree, 14.5% strongly agreed, and 4.3% strongly disagreed.

The salaries we gathered vary greatly; the largest percentage of our readers (7.2%) make $80,000-$84,999 or $90,000-$94,999. The median came out to $97,500. Next, let’s take a look at age and experience to see if more time spent in the industry makes for a larger salary.

Age and experience

The old adage, “with age comes wisdom” comes to mind when reviewing the next portion of the survey. Those aged 66-70 made the most annually, averaging $153,214. Those with more than 25 years of experience also made the most, averaging $131,124 (Figure 3) has a further breakdown. These statistics make perfect sense. The longer you’re in the industry, the more you make, so seeing the 66-70 year old bracket earning the most is expected. This suggests that if you put in your time in the industry, it truly does pay off.

Figure 3. Average salary by years of experience

Where do you work?

Most of our readers work at a Local/In-state IDN/Multi-hospital system (43%) and standalone hospitals (23%). The most interesting information we gathered from polling what type of facility is the salary of those who work at Health Information Exchanges. The average salary is $204,999—not too shabby! Although, this is a very small percentage of our readers, it is relevant to note that this type of organization pays individuals the big bucks.

Next, we asked if the facility was non-profit, for-profit, government-owned, or none of the above (Figure 5). For-profit facilities out earn non-profit by only $10,446.

Figure 5. Average salary by organization type

Finally, we compared the number of beds in a facility vs. salary. Facilities with 300-399 seem to earn the most with an average of $138,437. Most of our readers work in a place with 0-25 beds, which makes sense due to the variety of jobs across the HIT field (Figure 6).

Figure 6. Average salary by licensed beds

More details

Fifty-eight percent of our readers reported that no other people on their team have the same job as them, 15.9% report 1-2 people, 13% report 3-4 people, 2.9% report 5-9 people, 2.9% report 10-14, and 7.2% report 15 or more people. Those with 15 or more people doing the same job reported the highest average salary of $132,999.

This year we added another new question: Is your facility teaching or non-teaching? 52.2% answered non-teaching with an average salary of $117,638, 44.9% answered teaching with an average salary of $95,564, and 2.9% had no answer with an average salary of $171,250. Since the highest is no answer, we can safely assume that these individuals likely work for a Health Information Exchange or something similar, since all of our readers don’t work directly at hospitals.

We also asked about job security: 44.9% reported they feel very secure in their job position, 43.5% reported they feel somewhat secure, and 11.6% reported they feel somewhat insecure. Those that reported they feel somewhat insecure also took home the least money, an average of $83,124.

Location also appears to be a factor in salary: 50.7% work in an urban area, 37.7% work in a suburban area, and 11.6% work in a rural area. Those working in a suburban area bring home an average of $114,518 where those who work in urban areas bring home an average of $112,213, making that a difference of $2,305—so not much. In rural areas, the average is $79,374 which is vastly different. This could be due to a number of factors including a lower cost of living in rural areas. Also with the onset of telehealth, there are many more options for patients living in these areas to get care from a more urban or suburban area.

The demographics

HMT asked the gender of our readers this year again and 52.2% are male, 46.4% are female, and 1.4% preferred not to answer. In 2016, there were more females (51.5%), but this isn’t a huge difference. It is apparent that we have about an equal readership, give or take.

When asked what solutions/products that they will be looking to upgrade in 2018, 26.1% said cybersecurity/privacy/security as well as data storage/management and EMR/EHR systems. Cybersecurity is a huge deal due to the WannaCry ransomware attacks, so it’s a smart move to be sure you have the latest security measures and software in place considering that such attacks and breaches don’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.

We also asked what is the most pressing issue they want to tackle for the remainder of 2017 and into 2018. Data security came out on top with 33.3%, budget/cost cutting was number two with 31.9%, data analytics/management tied with security at 26.1%. Again, these issues are not a shock. Data security is definitely linked to all the recent attacks and breaches, and it’s hard to find a company that isn’t looking for ways to reduce their budget or cut costs. In May, we did a feature on data analytics, and it was apparent then and now that data and analytics are shaping the future of the healthcare information technology field. And security is a no brainer.

Thanks for taking the time to read the results from our 2017 salary survey, and please be on the lookout next year for our 2018 salary survey where we will compare 2016’s and 2017’s results with 2018.

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