A look at the HIT labor force in 2018

June 28, 2018

HMT polled its readers over the spring for our annual salary survey. The health information technology field continues to see tremendous growth, due to a number of factors such as artificial intelligence, telehealth, EHRs, 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 other factors. Continue reading for some eye-opening results.

Let’s compare

The readers of HMT vary. We have everyone from CEOs to administrators reading our publication, which is fitting for the field of health information technology. There are lots of roles to fill within the industry, so it makes sense that our readers hold many different titles.

Twenty-seven percent of our respondents classify themselves as a CIO (Chief Information Officer). Last year, only 13% classified themselves as a CIO, and the top classification was other IT. This year, “Other IT” came in at 17%. Perhaps some of our “Other IT” positions got promoted or classified themselves differently, such as HIM Director (15%) or VP of Clinical Informatics (9%) (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Average salary by position

Reported salaries for 2018 seem lower overall. For example, in 2017, those with administrator roles had an average salary of $93,499, and this year had an average of $58,129. In 2017, the average salary for a CIO was $135,277, and in 2018, the average was $118,240. This is surprising, but it shows there is still uncertainty in the economy as well as in the government concerning healthcare.

Moving on, let’s take a look at education and gender. (Figure 2). Overall, both males and females with post-graduate degrees make more, on average, than their counterparts—with an average salary of $125,624. Males with post-graduate degrees make slightly more than women, averaging with $135,587 opposed to $114,333. Again this year, males are making more across the board, which is unsurprising.

Figure 2. Average salary by education and gender

Now, let’s take a look at average salary regardless of gender. The average salary reported in the 2018 salary survey is $94,480—not taking benefits of bonuses into consideration. The average salary in 2017 was $109,274. Again, not taking benefits of bonuses into consideration, this is a considerable decrease.

This year we asked those who were surveyed if they were satisfied with their overall compensation. We found that 30% of respondents agreed, while 26% disagreed. 24% were neutral—neither agreed nor disagreed. Finally, 9% strongly agreed and 12% strongly disagreed.

The salaries we gather always vary greatly from year to year. The largest percentage of our readers in 2018 (11%) make $100,000-$104,000. The median came out to $87,500. Next, let’s take a look at experience and age to see how it affected salaries this year.

Experience is key

Those aged 56-60 earned the most annually this year, with an average of $122,500. In 2017, those aged 66-70 earned the most annually averaging at $153,214. Perhaps the change this year indicates that people in the 66-70 year age bracket have begun retiring from the industry.

Moving on to years of experience, 5-9 years or more earned the most in 2018, averaging annually at $109,166 (see Figure 3) for a further breakdown of salary and years of experience. This goes to show that this year, experience doesn’t pay off. Last year, 25 years or more earned the most.

Figure 3. Average salary by years of experience

Where is everyone working?

Let’s explore where all of our readers are working. This year, most of our readers work at standalone hospitals (28%). In 2017, most of our readers worked at Local/In-state IDN/Multi-hospital systems (43%). This suggests that perhaps some of the HIT work force is moving toward working at standalone hospitals. The highest salary reported in 2018 comes from what those who were polled reported as “Other.”

We also asked if the facility they worked for was nonprofit-, for-profit, government-owned, or none of the above. Most of our readers (56%) work at a non-profit. For-profit readers make up 35% of our readership, government-owned 5%, and none of the above 4%. The highest annual average salary ($119,000) this year comes from government-owned institutions. (Figure 4). Last year, the highest came from for-profit organizations, which wasn’t surprising, but it could really go either way. Both types of facilities have higher-end salaries for their employees.

Figure 4. Average salary by organization type

Next, we compared the number of beds in a facility vs. salary. Most of our readers (39%) work a facility with 0-25 beds. Most of our readers polled for the 2017 survey (33%) worked at a facility with 0-25 beds as well, which makes sense, due to the assortment of jobs that encompass the HIT industry. The average salary annually for 0-25 beds for 2018 is $95,769. Facilities with 500-749 beds earned the most this year averaging $118,000. (Figure 5).

Figure 5. Average salary by licensed beds

More information

This year, 64% of our respondents reported that no other people on their team have the same job as them. This is up from last year’s 58%. Continuing with 2018, 11% report 1-2 have the same job, 12% report 3-4, 7% report 5-9, 2% report 10-14, and 4% report 15 or more. Those with 10-14 people doing the same job as them had the highest salary annually at $117,500.

Last year, we added a new question: Is your facility teaching or nonteaching? This year, 59% answered nonteaching with an average salary of $96,749 and 40% answered teaching $90,500 (1% did not respond with an average salary of $117,500). In 2017, 52% answered nonteaching with an average salary of $117,638, and 45% answered teaching with an average salary of $171,250. 3% last year did not respond with an average salary of $171,250. We can assume (as we did in 2017 as well) since the highest salary is no answer 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: 39% said they feel very secure in their job position, 50% said they feel somewhat secure, and 11% said they feel somewhat insecure. Those who feel very secure, surprisingly, earn the least annually averaging at $90,448.

Location is also a factor in salary: 33% responded they work in an urban area earning an average salary of $109,772, 37% responded they work in a suburban area earning an average salary of $94,526, and 31% responded that they work in a rural environment earning $78,145. Perhaps, with the advances in telemedicine, rural doctors will continue to make less than their urban and suburban counterparts. There may not be a need, with real-time video technology, for specialists to be at a rural hospital that does not see as many patients as either an urban or suburban area. Of course, the cost of living in a rural area is lower than the others, so salaries would not be as high there.

Demographics

When HMT asked for the gender of our readers, 53% of our readers responded as female and 47% responded as male (everyone reported their gender in 2018). Last year, 52% were male and 47% were female (with 1.4% not reporting gender). We are seeing a slight increase in our female readership, although it is still pretty closely divided.

When asked about what solutions or products our readers were looking into upgrading in 2019, 31% said none. This could be contributed to the fragile economic state that many businesses are in at this time. The second answer at 24% was EMR/EHR systems, which makes sense, as they are such an integral part of the healthcare system today.

And finally, we look at what our readers said was the most pressing issue for the remainder of 2018 and 2019. I’m sad to report that 38% of our readers reported budget/cost cutting as their most pressing issue. Again, this is most certainly due to the economy and uncertainty with government politics toward healthcare. The next highest was EMR/EHR implementation and/or compliance growth. Both of these statistics line up with the previous paragraph about solutions and products. Perhaps next year, looking forward into 2020, our readers’ priorities won’t be so focused on finances … or lack thereof.

Thanks for taking the time to read our 2018 salary survey, and please be on the lookout next year for our 2019 salary survey!

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