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Feds To Help Train 50,000 Health IT Workers

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the bears-need-time-off-too dept.

Education 212

Lucas123 writes "The US Department of Health and Human Services is spending about $144 million on grant programs at more than 80 colleges and universities to help fill a void of about 50,000 workers for IT jobs in the healthcare industry. The workers are needed to help hospitals, physician practices and other healthcare entities to roll out electronic medical records, which the government is promoting through the use of reimbursement funds for those who implement EMRs and penalties for those who don't. The Health IT courses are set to begin this fall in five regions around the US and are aimed exclusively at workers who have previous IT or healthcare experience."

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212 comments

yeah, sure is a lack of unemployed IT types (4, Insightful)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936668)

How often must the government / industry claim there is a lack of qualified workers in some field before people just laugh and wonder who wants to bring down whose salary?

How about giving them loans for training which are paid back as part of their salary once they've secured a job?

Re:yeah, sure is a lack of unemployed IT types (2, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936712)

Wouldn't bringing down salaries for IT workers in the health care industry reduce health care costs? Isn't that basically what the whole debate was about with regards to health care "reform" was about for the last 2 years? They need more IT people to support moving everything to computers, but that means they can pay them less at the same time, as there's a larger supply than demand at that point. Makes sense to me, even if it sucks. But not my industry, so meh.

Re:yeah, sure is a lack of unemployed IT types (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936734)

Bringing down health workers' salaries would make health care cheaper, bringing down oil executives' salaries would make gasoline cheaper, bringing down factory workers' pay would make manufactured goods cheaper, and so on.

Everybody needs to eat. Skilled workers also need to pay for their training, and those who devote extra years to studying where they could be earning pay on that time only do so under the promise of a better living. If you don't pay people what they're worth, then of course you are going to end up with a shortage of willing workers - that is exactly the problem we face now. Nobody is going to go through university to live in a studio apartment and take the bus to work.

there is no shortage... (4, Insightful)

snooo53 (663796) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936800)

I find it extremely hard to believe there is any shortage of IT workers capable of doing healthcare development/implementation. I've actually worked with development for the healthcare IT industry and I could explain to any reasonably intelligent IT person the compliance guidelines they need to follow in a couple hours. This stuff isn't hard if you know your way around a computer; it's requirements like any other project in the world has. This is a government handout, pure and simple.

Re:there is no shortage... (4, Insightful)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937026)

You know, as a fellow developer, I often underestimate the colossal job IT has. It's not just a matter of following a few "compliance guidelines you can learn in a few hours." This sounds to me more like training on how to install, maintain, and support EMR systems. And not only that but how to help the non-technical people (ie doctors) learn them. If you think the job of IT supporting EMR systems is somehow akin to Homer Simpson pressing the "Vent Toxis Gas now" button, you're fooling yourself and insulting the whole of the IT industry to boot. EMRs are supposed to be capable of storing someone's lifetime history of any combination of symptoms and diseases and maintained under strict HIPPA privacy guidelines. And, the number of patients and doctors to support increases the complexity significantly.

I think your label of "government handout" is very presumptuous.

Re:there is no shortage... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32937428)

As someone who as worked in healthcare IT for a grand total of 5 years now I can tell you that we (Americans) and in severe trouble. This entire industry needs to be scrapped and outsourced to private industry asap. The level of incompentency is simply staggering. You have to understand a very large portion of healthcare (beyone the large private HMOs) is delivered by state institutions. That means safety net hospitals, state institutions, and hospitals that operate inside or parellel to higher ed instituions. I work on an applications team of about 80 folks (yeah 80 no shit). Most of these peeps have Analyst in thier title and many came from other areas of the organization (nursing, med techs, etc). I think there are maybe 3 or 4 of us with a realistic IT background that have actual skills to solve problems....e.g., understand relational databases, know a scripting language, undersand basic operational guidelines of managing large complex systems. Basically the modus opandi here is to throw a bunch of money at our prefered vedors and hope that we get a positive result. Combine this with a culture of "never fire anyone for any reason" and you get the worst of the worst case scenarios. This isn't FUD and I am absolutely not blowing this out of propotion. If our education system operates on any of the same principles that I see here (and I think it does), then its starting to become really clear about why thats in the shitter too. On the other hand.....good place to be when there is 15% unemployment....for now.

Uh, that's a GOOD thing. (2, Informative)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937784)

Most of these peeps have Analyst in thier title and many came from other areas of the organization (nursing, med techs, etc). I think there are maybe 3 or 4 of us with a realistic IT background that have actual skills to solve problems..

My wife is currently using this iPhone/iTouch medical app for her NP program. Long story short, the UI and the selections make absolutely no sense from a practitioner's standpoint. Once, after swearing at it, she asked what the fuck they were thinking. I answered, "Honey, it was probably designed and developed by programmers that have no clue what a practitioner needs or uses in a system." I know, I've worked on some medical systems for a very large medical software company that everyone in the business would know who they are and I've had to rework a few things myself because they didn't work from a practitioner's perspective.

So, it's a good thing that at least some of the practitioners are involved.

Re:there is no shortage... (2, Informative)

Mumpsman (836490) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937272)

"This stuff isn't hard if you know your way around a computer" This is true. What's hard is finding recent grads willing to suck it up and work with 40 year old technology. If you want to submit claims to Medicare directly, you have to do it via ZMODEM on a direct dial 56k line. ATZ...ATDT PHONENUMBER...I do it every day. As for development. Do you know a lot of MUMPS programmers? Do you know a lot of programmers who know what MUMPS even is? This is what 90% of the currently used EMRs use as a backend/DB. VistA, EPIC, Centricity, Meditech...all of these vendor packages use M, and there have always been jobs for people with MUMPS skills. At least there has for the 15 years I've been doing it. With the influx of Government monay, the need will only increase. But try finding classroom instruction in MUMPS - it doesn't exist. You sound really confident though, so you are probably right.

Re:there is no shortage... (1)

rsborg (111459) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937582)

I find it extremely hard to believe there is any shortage of IT workers...This is a government handout, pure and simple.

Though I'd agree with you, there are many types of "IT worker", and you would be surprised at what an average SAP, Oracle ERP, or BI consultant makes... do you think working with EMR/HIPAA is any easier than CRM, HCM or any of the other enterprise domains?

Re:there is no shortage... (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937590)

I haven't worked in healthcare IT. However, I do work in a related field that must follow the GxP guidelines (there are actually a couple of related guidelines here, the two I'm familiar with are Good Laboratory Practices and Good Manufacturing Practices). These are less stringent than the HIPPA guidelines. The thing is there is a lot of debate about what is necessary to correctly implement GxP regulations. I am quite sure the same is true of the HIPPA guidelines. Not only that but the new health care law contains mandates for a bunch of new regulations to be written, I am quite sure that a significant number of those new regulations will have requirements for the IT department in a health care organization and those regulations have not been written yet (and there is significant evidence that the relevant agency will nto have written them by the time they go into force according to the law itself).

Re:there is no shortage... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32937868)

I find it extremely hard to believe there is any shortage of IT workers capable of doing healthcare development/implementation. I've actually worked with development for the healthcare IT industry and I could explain to any reasonably intelligent IT person the compliance guidelines they need to follow in a couple hours. This stuff isn't hard if you know your way around a computer; it's requirements like any other project in the world has. This is a government handout, pure and simple.

The deadliest words in IT: "All You Have To Do Is..."

Re:yeah, sure is a lack of unemployed IT types (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32937550)

>>bringing down oil executives' salaries would make gasoline cheaper

Actually, bringing down Oil Executives Salaries would make EVERYTHING cheaper from gas to food to healthcare to virtually anything you can imagine. Assuming the respective industries would actually pass the savings to their customers.

And to be honest, one of the best ways to control the healthcare costs is to actually socialize healthcare which hasn't even been attempted yet. Obama tried to do health insurance reform which we don't need. Proper healthcare reform would actually remove insurance from the loop entirely as it would be paid by taxes. Healthcare should not be seen as a for-profit venture and the fact it has is the problem.

If the did this, they could more directly control the prices on stuff while actually have a reason to put more sane laws into how medicine is made. I honestly thing that any research into medicine done with tax money should be public domain. I would actually have this done retroactively if I could so that all these companies who spent our money to develop a drug, can't then turn around, patent it and then resell it to use at a 2000% mark up.

Re:yeah, sure is a lack of unemployed IT types (1)

Ex-MislTech (557759) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937792)

This is why I refuse to work full time anymore.

My motto as it is for a lot of other ppl tired of Welfare state is ....

"Starve the Beast"

As Ron Paul said, if you subsidize something you get more of it.

We need Co-op healthcare like the way USAA does Insurance, not for profit,
and no government bloated bureaucracy running it like the VA.

As a former veteran I can tell you the VA is often substandard.

The MSM even covered stories of returning injured not getting the care they needed.

Re:yeah, sure is a lack of unemployed IT types (3, Insightful)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936970)

Do you have any concept of IT worker salary? This wasn't what the health care debate was about. Your average IT grunt making 50-100k was not the cause of ballooning health care costs. Really there is nothing wrong with the government putting grants towards creating industry efficiencies. EMRs are sorely needed and some seed money to start training programs is not a half bad way to help nudge the industry (and doctors) towards EMRs.

Re:yeah, sure is a lack of unemployed IT types (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32937000)

Grunts don't make 50-100k. Hell, I've known managers who don't make that. The only people I've personally known were either important to the company or taking on bigger responsibilities than you are aware of.

The people who handle your servers/routers or run cables are not grunts, the reason they make 50-100k is because maintaining your system services requires major skill and dedication while cabling is tiresome and dangerous work akin to electrical wiring. These are big jobs and if you're offering $35k a year then you have absolutely nobody to blame but yourself if the only applicants are incompetent and dishonest.

Re:yeah, sure is a lack of unemployed IT types (1, Insightful)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937120)

Isn't it hilarious that all the people who talk the most about the free market, and the efficient market, and the beauty of the market are the same people who think the market FUCKED UP when it decided that programmers are expensive?

Re:yeah, sure is a lack of unemployed IT types (3, Insightful)

Senes (928228) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937318)

That's just it. If you don't pay people what they're worth, you don't get them. Instead you get their cheap alternative. You don't want to pay full price for a product? You buy the cheap alternative. But then you notice it's not the same, but you can't blame anyone but yourself because you were the one who chose not to pay for the real thing. You don't think cable TV is worth the price the company charges? Then you don't get it, simple as that. What we have here is spoiled corporate brats who don't want to pay what something costs but then whine when they don't have it.

Re:yeah, sure is a lack of unemployed IT types (1, Interesting)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937640)

Why are electronic medical records so sorely needed? So that hackers can access my medical records?

Re:yeah, sure is a lack of unemployed IT types (1)

hsthompson69 (1674722) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937952)

Actually, you've got a good point - reducing salaries for IT workers would reduce health care costs. So would reducing salaries for doctors, nurses and all other health care employees. The unintended consequences of such an activity are pretty severe though.

It's sort of like "affordable housing". Everybody is for "affordable housing", but nobody wants more foreclosures. However, foreclosures are exactly the kind of thing that would bring prices down and make things affordable.

The problem here though isn't the theory, it's the practical. Government intervention into markets creates distortions that cannot be sustained. Eventually, the best intentions implode on themselves. In the case of reducing IT salaries, I can only imagine that in the worst case, we have a big bucket of money, but not enough qualified people to take advantage of it, so we lower our standards so we can spend all the money. The resulting poor crop of IT workers ends up replacing more expensive IT workers, who find solace in other industries, and you essentially end up with less quality and less cost.

Of course, if they really wanted to reduce health care costs, they'd reduce disease, and the quickest, cheapest way to do that is to tell people to restrict their carbohydrate intake (contrary to the six servings of cereals and grains recommended by the USDA). Reducing the incidence of chronic disease, including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer and alzehimer's, by recommending a truly healthy diet, would not only reduce health care costs, it would improve health.

Windows != IT (2, Insightful)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936830)

Making it a general programme for people with health care experience will work. Getting even into an entry level medical job entails around 6 years of school plus at least a year or two of work experience. There are exceptions for some specialties, like phlebotomy, where the training period is shorter. Even then it still is not knowledge that can be faked or made up for in a few months of side reading. However, legitimate IT backgrounds, if present in a small ratio, can provide skills and insight not available to those who have spent years getting domain expertise in medicine.

What can kill the project dead, dead, dead is if people with Windowz Skillz are allowed to pose as IT workers. Microsoft products have little to do with IT except that they are placeholders blocking legitimate, functioning protocols, formats, applications, and operating systems. The kind of slug that tries to make a living of of Microsoft products lacks the ability to analyze and solve problems. They're usually either rote memorization monkeys or sales marketeers. The bullshitting and lying that accompanies both the rote monkeys and the marketeers ends up costing lives when it happens in clinics and hospitals, especially when the ongoing Windows disasters [theregister.co.uk] collapse the hospital.

In most cases it is easier to add beginner, basic 'IT' skills to people with domain expertise than it is to try to shoehorn people without medical training and experience into the job. That and it's easier to just throw out all closed source rather than waste resources culling just the Microsofters.

Re:Windows != IT (3, Informative)

markdavis (642305) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936980)

Unfortunately, healthcare in the USA (and many other countries) is *extremely* entrenched in Microsoft products (trust me, I know) and closed source software. The whole "giving out money for EMR's" has been a disaster. Special interest groups have pretty much ensured that all the money will go only to "approved" or "certified" systems, which are all closed-source, commercial packages (and almost all also running on MS-Windows).

And guess what those companies did? They RAISED THEIR PRICES for that software by the same amount of money that is being pumped into handouts to hospitals and physician groups!

Instead of pumping billions of dollars into closed source, single-platform, commercial products that lock in customers, the Fed should have directed that money into open standards, open source, and multi-platform research and coding. You want to talk about savings? Imagine how much the industry could save if there was at least one robust, flexible, open-source, multi-platform EMR? (And no, that isn't OpenVistA). Let EMR companies make their money off custom (but open) additions, installation, training, support, hosting, etc.

Re:Windows != IT (2, Funny)

bieber (998013) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937032)

Surely you jest! Can you imagine the mayhem that would ensue if the terrorists could see the source code to our hospitals? /s

Federally supported open source alternative (1)

rainmayun (842754) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937422)

You might be interested to know that the federal government (under the guidance of HHS) is funding and fostering community support for development of an open source health information exchange framework. This includes the software to run the system that health care providers (think hospitals, insurance, HMOs, etc) can install and run, and administration of the network backbone to connect them (also known as the NHIN [hhs.gov]).

http://www.connectopensource.org/about/what-is-CONNECT [connectopensource.org]

Bizzarro World - health IT closed, oil IT open (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937622)

The really bizzare thing is that while the oil industry has had open standards for file formats and other elements for decades the health industry has been steadily closing things off.

Re:Windows != IT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32937434)

I'm sure this post will not be popular around here but... People with real IT skills know what tools to use and when. Solutions should be built based on the business needs/specifications and decisions should not be made by gross generalizations of one product/company or another. I think Microsoft's business practices are atrocious but the fact still remains that Microsoft products are regularly chosen because the TCO is lower and ROI exceed their competitors. Business are there to make money...not engage in turf wars.

So I would counter, that any project will be dead, dead, dead if they hire idealogs instead of higher true engineers who will build the solution as the business and regulation requires.

Re:yeah, sure is a lack of unemployed IT types (1)

xmorg (718633) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937118)

The market is already flooded with IT. My old boss said when he posted for the job, he got HUNDREDS of resumes, here in solCal. They are just doing this as an excuse to give money to the schools. They don't really care if we have jobs or not. But the schools are colleges are a HUGE lobbyist.

Re:yeah, sure is a lack of unemployed IT types (1)

pkbarbiedoll (851110) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937752)

Case in point.. my job is being replaced by indian programmers.. and I work in healthcare/IT.

I want to be motivated and excited about the news in this article, but I'm not. Sucks when you are in said field and you can't compete with cheaper indian labor.

Re:yeah, sure is a lack of unemployed IT types (1)

darkpixel2k (623900) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937938)

How often must the government / industry claim there is a lack of qualified workers in some field before people just laugh and wonder who wants to bring down whose salary?

How about giving them loans for training which are paid back as part of their salary once they've secured a job?

Maybe their premise is wrong. There doesn't appear to be a lack of qualified IT workers. (My boss is searching for a go-out-and-replace-this-motherboard technician, and a majority of the applicants are 'big players'--like former Oracle DB developers). I think the correct question is "Why aren't we getting a lot of IT people wanting to work in the medical industry?".

My guess is the horribly insane regulations like HIPAA, SOX, etc... that make the job more 'risky'.

If someone hacks into a windows box at...say...a construction firm, it's not a huge deal. Make sure everything gets fixed/patched and continue on.
If someone hacks into a windows box at...say...a hospital, and you're spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on cleanup, notifying patients, HIPAA fines, credit reports, and possibly getting fired because someone hacked into your system.

As a fun side-note, none of my Linux boxes (~45) have been hacked in the last 30 days, but I've had 5 compromised Windows machines out of approximately 150. (The linux boxes have no antivirus software, all 150 Windows machines are running either Symantec or McAfee).

New Degree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936680)

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Major of Federal Health Care Systems.

This is corporate welfare. (4, Insightful)

Senes (928228) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936686)

Instead of tapping into the underemployed IT labor resources, which would cost more money, businesses have instead successfully lobbied the federal government to spend its own money to solve their problems for them.

Were at Wal-Mart 2.0, now any job can be paid by government instead of the employers themselves.

Re:This is corporate welfare. (2, Insightful)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936844)

Yes and no. It looks like most of these will fund training for technical schools which are, as the /. crowd already knows, basically worthless for actually being productive in IT, and probably won't help you get a job. (The stories of people who went into debt to go to one of these schools, hoping to get an IT job but becoming just as unemployable anyway.

What's worse, as those who get e.g. "Cisco certification" know, it can tell employers that, "This applicant knows enough to destroy your system, but not enough to get anything done."

The best that can happen is that this will just become some "checkoff requirement" -- doesn't help you with your job, but doesn't hurt either, just wastes time.

More money down the shithole. If it's welfare, it's welfare for the worthless colleges that keep rooking the unemployed.

drug testing? (1)

Internet_Communist (592634) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936732)

i've always looked right over health care jobs because they drug test and I refuse to work for a company who does that...end of story. They wonder why they can't find anyone to work for them? hah...

Re:drug testing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936748)

i've always looked right over health care jobs because they drug test and I refuse to work for a company who does that...end of story. They wonder why they can't find anyone to work for them? hah...

I have a healthcare IT job that doesn't drug test ;)

Re:drug testing? (1)

Lucas123 (935744) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936756)

And, we all know how much the healthcare industry is hurting from the lack of workers who use recreational drugs.We'd all feel much safer knowing the guy in charge of the EMR database just finished smoking a doobie.

Re:drug testing? (3, Insightful)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936814)

The original poster argues that invasive and unjustified prying into the private lives of employees is a disincentive to potential employees. You respond that anyone who questions those policies does drugs while on the job. You either missed the point or are purposefully ignoring it.

Re:drug testing? (1)

Internet_Communist (592634) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936904)

yep that's pretty much the point i'm trying to make - people should be judged by how they perform their jobs, not on what they do outside of their jobs. Some of the commenter's here acting as if someone who smokes pot is an inferior person is just hilarious and goes to show how ignorant the masses can be. Sure too much of anything can be a bad thing, but losing a job cause you smoked some pot at a party 2-4 weeks ago (the amount of time it could potentially show up on a piss test) or something is just retarded and completely unjustified regardless.

Re:drug testing? (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937054)

" people should be judged by how they perform their jobs, not on what they do outside of their jobs"

From my experiences with drug users the fact that they use drugs does say a lot about how well they perform their jobs.

Plus, it reflects pretty poorly on the company if you ever get publicly busted for drugs. In a large city no one would notice probably, but in smaller towns every little drug bust shows up in the local newspaper.

Re:drug testing? (1)

Internet_Communist (592634) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937148)

maybe, but the fact they are getting busted means they probably aren't being very responsible in the first place....and anecdotal experiences hardly speak for everyone...but even so I'm not sure you're really disagreeing with me - if their job performance is shit then that should speak for itself should it not?

as for company image, i haven't seen too many cases where people getting busted for drugs listed the company they worked for and what not, not unless the person was a high ranking official in the company that people otherwise knew anyway...this is not really something you could predict, and quite honestly if it wasn't for all the broken drug laws this wouldn't even be an issue anyway...in either case I don't think this justifies drug testing one bit.

Re:drug testing? (1)

ffreeloader (1105115) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937516)

as for company image, i haven't seen too many cases where people getting busted for drugs listed the company they worked for and what not, not unless the person was a high ranking official in the company that people otherwise knew anyway...

In small towns you don't have to post the name of the company you work for. People know who you work for and if your name gets posted in the newspaper it will get talked about by a lot of people and will reflect on the company you work for if you have a job with a lot of responsibility or one that requires strict integrity. Big city anonymity does not exist in small towns.

I'm not for drug testing, but only because of the personal privacy implications. Someone addicted enough to not be able to stop using long enough for the drugs to get out of their system, or not smart enough to use masking agents, will have a spotty employment record. There will be red flags in their history that will make it very difficult for them to get a job in which drug usage would affect their performance in critical situations. Thus, I don't believe that the loss of privacy involved in pre-employment drug testing is worth the insignificant benefit gained.

Drug testing by employers has had no measurable impact on drug use overall. Drug use has increased right along with drug testing, so drug testing is of no real value. It's just another feel-good "security" measure that does no real world good, but does help create in people more of the "sheeple" effect in which personal independence and liberty is extinguished more every day.

Re:drug testing? (3, Insightful)

markdavis (642305) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936916)

You are an asshole. Did it ever occur to you that there are people (myself included) that have NEVER used illegal drugs and yet refuse to be drug tested because it is a violation of our privacy and almost always with no probable cause?

1) You also have no idea what else they are testing for
2) You have no idea what information is shared and to whom
3) There is a absolute possibility of false positives that could ruin your reputation

Drug testing is evil, period. Legal drugs (such as alcohol and prescription drugs, even over-the-counter meds) can be just as debilitating. Even sleep deprivation can cause severe performance problems. And those that do choose to use a illegal drug on their own time don't necessarily affect their on-the-job performance.

If a company wants to ensure their workforce is not "impaired", then they should test for impairment through some type of coordination, response time, or mental exercise. Or perhaps even through observation of performance.

Re:drug testing? (1)

Internet_Communist (592634) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936990)

More and more it seems drug testing is used as a sort of blanket "cover our asses" type of thing for companies which are too lazy to actually monitor the performance of their employees. It's quite sad honestly.

Re:drug testing? (2, Insightful)

drsmack1 (698392) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936784)

I have a friend in I.T. and he regularly smokes pot and will occasionally take other things that mess him up. This *does* make him less reliable and he is less consistently available to work when scheduled.

Knowing him has made me more in favor of the employers right to test for drugs (as part of the employment contract).

I'd really like there to be some sort of disincentive for him being high as a kite (or recovering) whilst he is working on medical equipment that may be keeping someone alive.

Re:drug testing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936828)

The last time I smoked I felt my wits dimmed for some weeks afterward. It affected my work performance - not to a degree that anyone noticed except myself (and maybe a subordinate who thought I was having an off couple of weeks). I greatly enjoy pot but am unwilling to accept the consequences. Thus, I no longer indulge.

Re:drug testing? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936850)

How do you know the pot messes him up on a long-term basis? He could just be naturally unreliable.

There is a major difference between being presently intoxicated (which would be grounds for firing anyway) and having had a smoke in the past couple of weeks (which a drug test could yield a positive from.)

Re:drug testing? (3, Insightful)

Internet_Communist (592634) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936912)

this is anecdotal at best and really speaks out more about your friend as a person than it does the effects of the drugs on him....

Re:drug testing? (1)

drsmack1 (698392) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937262)

this is anecdotal at best and really speaks out more about your friend as a person than it does the effects of the drugs on him....

Did I really need to take the time to mention that there are times he is not high or recovering and that I can easily tell the difference? I guess I did.

You may be someone who is not heavily affected by whatever you are taking. Maybe it is that you just can't tell. Anecdotal would be that you extrapolate your perception that you can handle it into *everyone* can handle it. It may be that you hold this position purely because you do not want to be inconvenienced by rules which are designed to protect everyone else from the weak or those with poor insight.

On a similar note, I have superior reflexes and situational awareness / judgement that allows me to drive safely in ways that other would consider extremely aggressive.

I am not personally selfish enough to want the laws I regularly break to be stricken from the books - because those laws are there to protect everyone from those who do not have my talents.

It is annoying to be subject to tickets from the authorities, but I am paying for my lack of patience - not being punished for being a better driver than most everyone else.

Re:drug testing? (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937650)

Traffic rules also let other drivers know what to expect. Your aggressive driving could cause someone else to brake reflexively, getting rear-ended in the process. Your lack of patience is dangerous. I'm not going to waste time finding references because you will probably conclude that you aren't one of those people, but when people think they are good drivers it's usually because they are good at other things and haven't caused an accident yet. You are probably no better than most, and your arrogance, statistically speaking, puts you at higher risk of having a fatal accident when you do something other people don't expect.

As to your friend, the employer should fire someone who is not reliable. That should be the disincentive, not drug testing.

Further, if you are watching him work on equipment that keeps people alive, while he's high, you are an accomplice to any problems he causes. You accept responsibility for letting that person die. Elsewhere you suggest that people with hangovers should not be working on this equipment, to sidestep the argument that drug testing won't solve the problem of unreliable or "messed up" workers. The employer is responsible for monitoring its employees, and drug testing catches only a small percentage of the unreliable workers, which makes it fairly pointless.

Knowing him has made me more in favor of the employers right to test for drugs (as part of the employment contract).

Why go the indirect route? Open-door on the guy, or drop a note in a manager's or executive's box or under their door and get him fired. If you have a problem with it, do something about it. Don't advocate infringing other peoples' right to privacy for something temporary they do off the clock which solves only a small part of the problem just because you're too much of a pussy to do the right thing.

Re:drug testing? (1)

Internet_Communist (592634) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937882)

I never said I was taking anything nor did I claim to be better at "handling my substances" than anyone else as you seem to imply by your driving analogy. It's anecdotal because this is a single personal account a friend and not a scientifically significant subset of the general population or a representation of much of anything at all except for that specific person's issues.

I mean, maybe the laws are there to protect, but quite honestly i don't know what your friends taking, but the laws protecting people from pot are hardly justified given that it's a hell of a lot less dangerous than the legal alternatives like cigarettes or alcohol. Further perpetuating misinformation about the effects of drugs is not going to help this any. I reckon even the "weak or poorly insighted" are not going to be so much more blinded by pot than those with some super-human substance-intaking abilities that you seem to imply exist...Sure you might see the person who's a "n00b" at it act all silly or what not, but the placebo effect is a powerful thing.

Ever seen those scientific studies where they give people "alcohol-free" beer and don't tell them, and then watch as the people proceed to talk louder and act stupid even though no alcohol was actually involved?

Fact is, people are dumb all by themselves, blaming the drugs is just an excuse...and if that person's use of drugs is making then even more dumb, then it's just an extension of that person's inherit stupidity.

Re:drug testing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32937022)

I'd really like there to be some sort of disincentive for him being high as a kite (or recovering) whilst he is working on medical equipment that may be keeping someone alive.

So you'd prefer somebody with a perpetual hangover and a fifth in his lunch box working on that medical equipment? I've found alcoholics tend to congregate at companies that drug test.

Re:drug testing? (1)

drsmack1 (698392) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937190)

I'd really like there to be some sort of disincentive for him being high as a kite (or recovering) whilst he is working on medical equipment that may be keeping someone alive.

So you'd prefer somebody with a perpetual hangover and a fifth in his lunch box working on that medical equipment? I've found alcoholics tend to congregate at companies that drug test.

Did I say that? Is must be so easy for you to argue your point when you get to make up what you are replying too. Nice strategy there Mr AC.

Re:drug testing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32937462)

nice reply from somebody named "Dr Smack!"

Re:drug testing? (1)

drsmack1 (698392) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937586)

Hey, thats a great name. Didn't it make you smile a little? It was the name of a dermatologist I knew in the Army.

Re:drug testing? (1)

warGod3 (198094) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936790)

I'm sure if it means a decent paying job with benefits, some people will forego the "I won't work for a company that piss tests people" idea.

Re:drug testing? (1)

Internet_Communist (592634) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936934)

well i've got a decent paying job with benefits and they don't drug test, so maybe i am limiting my options, but it hasn't hurt me any. Our employee handbook actually focuses more on addiction and rehab and stuff like that which I actually think is somewhat respectable. I'd much rather work for a company who is realistic than one who decides to violate the employee's privacy right from the start, it doesn't really speak well for the company and it's not the kind of place I'd want to work for...

Re:drug testing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32937300)

Whatever you say Cheech :)

Re:drug testing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32937386)

Are you referring to periodic drug screening after you get the job or a one-time screening as a pre-requisite to get the job?

I'm morally opposed to drug screening too -- and then I was out of work and needed a job and the best offer came with that nasty string attached.

(And FWIW, I only do alcohol, so I've never had anything to fear from screenings.)

$3k/worker (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936770)

That's about $3k/worker, enough to buy books. The whole idea of EMR is unconstitutional anyway, along with 99% of what fedgov does.

Re:$3k/worker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936792)

Right, it's only grants to help spur activity - the feds aren't putting these people through school.

You can say what you want about the constitution, but unless you file a federal case over it and win then it doesn't mean a thing. EMR does not violate the constitution because people do not have the right to watch others die in the street for lack of emergency response.

Re:$3k/worker (3, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937088)

EMR is absolutely awesome, and with regards to the government push for it: it's about time.

I'm assuming your "unconstitutional" comment is with regards to privacy. I'm also assuming you have no idea how things currently work.

The concept behind EMR (Electronic Medical Records) is simply taking your medical data, previously filed on paper, and instead storing it on a computer. All the previous privacy regulation (mostly HIPAA) applies, as well as extra regulations (HITECH). The information is still behind firewalls and physical locked doors. The biggest operational difference is that now third parties (like insurance providers, pharmacies, specialists, labs, researchers, etc.) can get access to your data much faster, once they have enough credentials.

In the days of paper, a third-party representative would have to come into the hospital, go to a big room full of paper, stand there making copies of the records they need, then go back and have someone transcribe them all into a computer. For a while, all your data would be carried in a briefcase down the street, easily available for theft. Among the data the third party needs is a lot of other information they don't, but since it's on the same form, they see it anyway.

Now with EMR, the third-party computer system can just connect to the hospital, and supply their credentials to gain access. At the hospital I work with, that means two rounds of username/passwords, plus a physical token. That's far more secure than simply needing a hospital badge and a good excuse. The records are pulled by request, so there's no extra information given. If the third party (like a pharmacy) doesn't need to know about your religious preference (kept by the hospital in case they have to call for last rites), they simply don't get it. Once the electronic medical data's in transit, it's also more secure. There's no briefcases to grab here. Instead, there's an encrypted connection inside an encrypted VPN. When the data arrives at the third party's office, it's easily formatted for their system, with no extra people staring at it.

All in all, EMR is far better than old processes. It's faster, more reliable (think of the stereotypical doctor's handwriting), and more secure.

This is for existing IT field people (4, Informative)

syntap (242090) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936810)

I always hate to RTFA and burst the naysayer bubbles, but "the training programs are aimed at people who already have health care or IT backgrounds -- not workers from other fields who have no previous experience or training in either discipline." As such I don't think it is dilutive in terms of IT worker salaries... they are taking people would would have been in the IT workforce and steering them to healthcare.

This isn't the old "train the janitor to develop complex systems" move from dot-com era. However the article does not seem to address the possibility of recipients of this training going overseas with the expertise.

Re:This is for existing IT field people (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937106)

I'm not very certain, since I only work with US healthcare, but it's my understanding that the big overseas job markets (Europe, Asia) have had EMR for a long time already. The US is the only place with a huge demand for EMR experts.

Re:This is for existing IT field people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32937172)

The correct answer remains the same: the industry need to offer better compensation.

If their offerings were appropriate, they wouldn't have a shortage in the first place. Workers would find their own way into the desired training in pursuit of this money. On the other hand; if you spend federal money padding jobs that people aren't applying to then there is still no guarantee people will apply to them if the compensation isn't worth the demands. The shortage could remain and the investment would be a total waste.

Alternatively, the employers can train the workers themselves. This is how a lot of skilled jobs used to work, but unsurprisingly the costs were cut.

Works out to $30000 per worker (0, Troll)

shoppa (464619) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936882)

Take that $150M, divide it by the 50K workers, and come up with a bill of $30000 per worker.

Now, that's not the worst thing in the world, but $30000 works out to like several years tuition at many state colleges. In some case $30K will pay for a 4-year degree.

Now, the worst thing in the world: Reminds me of the cost to a local police department, $15M, to get new radios for HQ and 250 officers in the county. That worked out to $60K per officer.

Re:Works out to $30000 per worker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936926)

you did your math wrong...pathetic really

Re:Works out to $30000 per worker (3, Funny)

ferd_farkle (208662) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936946)

"Take that $150M, divide it by the 50K workers, and come up with a bill of $30000 per worker."

You may have left your sliderule out in the rain.

Re:Works out to $30000 per worker (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937338)

Actually, that's the way government math works. The representative wrings out $3000 from Congress. He returns to his constituency and yells, "Y'all gettin' $30000!"

Being off by an order of magnitude is "compliant with government levels of computational accuracy."

As an IT worker in the healthcare industry... (2, Interesting)

WiglyWorm (1139035) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936902)

... I say "bring it on". The IT department at the hospital I work at is bloated, inefficient, and ineffective. A lot of it has to do with our leadership and lax corporate culture, but a lot of it also has to do with the fact that 25% of our IT department is made of nurses who have not a clue about technology, and the other 75% of it is made of technology people who know nothing about medicine/hospital work. I can honestly say that some of the wacky decisions the IT department has made out of ignorance have negatively affected our patient care. I doubt it's killed anyone, but it has caused unnecessary delays and confusion.

Re:As an IT worker in the healthcare industry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32937086)

On a similar note, you take IT departments like that (mine is similar) and combine it with unrealistic goals, poor system selection decisions, and mix it with all the regulations and hoops that are thrown in to the mix and the infusion of workers will be needed as the staff that know their stuff search out greener pastures.

Been implementing and supporting electronic medical record systems for 9 years now, it is quickly becoming not worth the trouble to deal with the healthcare circus.

Re:As an IT worker in the healthcare industry... (1)

user_moniker (1776988) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937540)

Agreed with the circus part. I work as the sole IT person for a small company who decided to build their own EMR. First, using a consultant. Now, I make the changes to the software. The owner and the managers have created a very reactive environment, where the business processes change almost daily. They tell me what they want, and I have to implement it. I don't think the thing is nearly as compliant as it should be. The entire system is custom made, the company processes are built around the software. The management decided to flush out all the long-running employees, and now I am constantly running around answering questions. The people we have know "what" to click on, but don't know why. My project completion time has ballooned from hours to weeks. My manager said if they bought an EMR, it would be easy for the vendor to convert all of our data (250 tables, and 1M records). The pickiness of the owner, managers, and the industry make it almost impossible to implement a sane design, a vendor would have no hope of meeting their "requirements." They seem to have no idea what a nightmare hole they have dug. I have been holding things together, but the hole gets a little deeper every day. It's the healthcare people who need IT training. Even some rudimentary logical training would help. Your computer cannot read your mind; it cannot think. If it tells you to do something, it doesn't mean you have to do it. It means it was programmed to pop up the dialog box. You still have to know what you are doing. Yes, you have to use the note format provided. No, you cannot have a special note just for yourself. Yes, you have to have internet access to access the internet. When you print something, the words on the paper cannot change when the data is updated?! Just because you took grandma's blood pressure, doesn't make you God. Just type it in the box labeled "blood pressure" so we can all get on with our day.

Re:As an IT worker in the healthcare industry... (1)

SonnyDog09 (1500475) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937250)

My experience is that Healthcare IT is almost as conservative as healthcare. They are using systems and methodologies that are old. The deployment of EHR and HIEs will create jobs for IT to do things like network administration, database admin, backup/recovery, etc. There is going to be more work than the talent that is available. I, for one, will be happy for all the help that I can get. If I don't have to explain the basics of encounters and the importance of security to the newbies, I will be a happy man.

This is just the rise of evil diploma mills (5, Interesting)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936960)

It's been going on for some time. A bunch of wealth asshats bought out a ton of regionally accredited schools and turned them into diploma mills for soaking up taxpayer money in exchange for fake educations. IT is really popular with these bastards because it's cheap as hell to train and the rubes these 'schools' prey on think there's lots of easy money in computers because they find them hard to understand.

There's a movement in the Obama admin to take away these pseudo-school's eligibility for gov't if they can't show 80% of their graduates get jobs in their field and actually enforcing it. Right now they're skirting around these regulations by claiming stuff like call center work is 'IT'.

Anyway, if the gov't really gave a flying fsck they'd stop the H1-B Visa program dead. At any rate this is just more free money for the rich. Yea America.

Re:This is just the rise of evil diploma mills (2, Insightful)

rainmayun (842754) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937518)

I doubt any accredited four year college or university could show that 80% of their graduates got jobs in their field. There's no mechanism for requiring that graduates stick to their field of study, and many find happiness doing other things, even if their income over time is reduced.

Federal Overlords (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936986)

Well I'm glad our Federal Overlords know what we workers should be doing and are willing to commit our future earnings to that end.

The government focus on healthcare is troubling (1)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936996)

Healthcare is a service that has evolved to benefit productive societies. It is mostly unexportable and can not sustainably drive GDP anymore than government spending can. Thus the government's push to expand the sector while the rest of the productive economy is contracting is nothing more than a malinvestment which will result in a weaker economy overall.

Re:The government focus on healthcare is troubling (4, Insightful)

shaitand (626655) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937194)

A cut in healthcare expenses puts just as much capital in consumer pockets as a tax cut. Arguably, unlike the tax cut, it puts the capital in the consumer pockets that are likely to need it.

Consumers then spend that money, into the productive economy but without screwing up a budget surplus.

Re:The government focus on healthcare is troubling (1)

alphaseven (540122) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937652)

Here's a chart [washingtonpost.com] showing a very strong correlation between health care costs and wages. For a period in the 90s health care costs grew very slowly and wages shot up, and when health care costs started rising more sharply during the 00s wages became stagnant. It makes sense that an employer would spend less on an employees wages as the cost of their benefits go up.

Re:The government focus on healthcare is troubling (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937662)

A cut in healthcare expenses puts just as much capital in consumer pockets as a tax cut. Arguably, unlike the tax cut, it puts the capital in the consumer pockets that are likely to need it.

Consumers then spend that money, into the productive economy but without screwing up a budget surplus.

That's great. Now when is somebody going to do something to reduce healthcare expenses?

Re:The government focus on healthcare is troubling (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937234)

Better healthcare leads to more healthy people, which leads to more productive people, which leads to a better GDP. That's one angle.

Another is that American healthcare is a huge industry, and the processes that are effective there can be expected to migrate into other industries easily, having passed the test of scale. It's hospital EMR today, leading to the fabled paperless office down the road.

Re:The government focus on healthcare is troubling (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937412)

I'd argue that it is partly exportable, as some people come to the US for medical procedures, but your point stands that it is primarily local.

Of particular importance, and as mentioned by some sibling posts, is that the federal government spends an inordinate amount of money on healthcare. This could have cost implications which would potentially lower (albeit a small amount) the cost per procedure in overhead and administrative expenses. Will that be reflected in the bills we pay or in the size of the house the head of Radiology can build on Water Island?

The other factor here is that the world is a closed system which is getting more efficient over time, so there is a limit to exports to bail us out.

Healthcare IS exportable, and becoming more so (1)

pkbarbiedoll (851110) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937810)

There is a huge push for telemedicine right now. Lots of money is going into developing systems where docs can perform consultations via internet.

An objective of all of this is to further reduce healthcare costs by offshoring many routine examinations to Bangkok or other third world physicians. Your tax dollars at work.

Jobs for the rest of us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32937138)

I'm not surprised this is restricted to people "already in the IT industry." Wouldn't want people who would be more than happy to learn these skills getting this money, oh no. As if the computer science degree "requirement" for IT work wasn't a sham already.

Digital records are NOT a good thing (3, Interesting)

shaitand (626655) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937158)

I've been in hospitals with digitized systems. The nurses simply don't have the time to do data entry on top of their jobs.

It's hard enough grabbing the pills and running room to room without having to stop after each one, scan the cup into the system, fix the system when it doesn't log the cup correctly or the patient opt'd not to take the drugs yet or has a script that gives a different number of pills at night vs day or spit the pills out and she needs to get more.

Now you have nurses with several cups of pills they have to hold because the digital system already has them checked out. Patients who can't get medication because the nurse can't just go get more pills to replace the ones she knows weren't taken. People who aren't attended to at all because the nurse has to spend an extra 15 minutes per patient per room stop to handle data entry overhead.

Re:Digital records are NOT a good thing (2, Informative)

Excelcior (1390167) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937294)

Working in the medical field myself, I can tell you that digitizing makes things faster, not slower. Back when it was all paper, you still had to take just as many notes and chart just as much stuff... you simply had to do it with a pen, and if you made a mistake, you had to cross it out in red, file it anyway, and go get a blank chart to copy it all onto. Then there was also the travel time aspect; when patient C was issued a new RX, you had to physically walk down to records to get the medication history and allergies report for the doctor. Now you just pull it up on the console in the operatory. All notes that are required now have always been required; the only difference is that now people can enter them with a keyboard, instead of needing good penmanship. Trust me, getting a records transfer from another clinic that does not use electronic records is always a pain; do you have any idea how poorly some nurses & assistants can write?!

Re:Digital records are NOT a good thing (1)

FlyingGuy (989135) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937354)

Well is it really better? When my son goes to the doctor for his annual checkup ( a 9 year old ) the doctor spends most of the time logging into ( if it works ) some windows box, then getting to the screen to lookup my son's medical records, then typing in why he is there. That takes about 1/3 of the scheduled slot. Then the exam followed by more intermediate typing, followed by more questions from him, answers by my son, me and his mother ( if we can both be there ) followed by yet more typing.

All in all about 50% of the scheduled visit is just the doctor fucking around with the computer.

bad in the old ways the doctor made a few salient notes here and there and 90% of the time was used to address issues and or questions about my sons health instead of dicking around with a computer.

Sometimes automation is good other times it just gets in the way of what you are trying to do.

Re:Digital records are NOT a good thing (2, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937560)

So what happens to those notes? Are they copied into a permanent record? Are they made available to anyone who needs them? Or are they ignored, as in the case of my father, who suffered an allergic reaction to a surgical disinfectant, because his allergy information was compared (by a human, mind you) against the list of materials to be used, and they missed that one note?

Paper records are great for recording notes that the doctor never wants to see again. Anything that might be useful in the future should be put into electronic form, and kept ready for use in an emergency.

It sounds like your doctor is just following the normal computer-using routine: using Windows, logging out when leaving the room, hunt-and-peck typing, et cetera. If you want to complain about something, go complain to the people who recommend those kind of systems. The doctor could carry around an always-logged-in laptop and take some typing lessons, and you'd see a huge improvement in the time usage. EMR isn't the problem.

Re:Digital records are NOT a good thing (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937696)

Your doctor needs a medical transcriptionist, which would raise costs, and have the staff open the patients' charts before you are called back. If you have a complaint, this person is providing a service and you are free to share your concerns or find a new doctor. I'd share my concerns because it will benefit all of the doc's patients in addition to yourself.

Blaming technology for its incompetent users requires you to distinguish which is the cause of the problems. A child services applciation that automatically closes abuse cases after inactivity, requiring users to falsify records in order to keep them open, and makes support payment processing impossible is a failure of technology (UK govt vs. EDS). Your doctor dicking around is a failure of training, and a failure of you to complain.

Helps me out anyway (1)

Tailor (1858412) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937642)

In Albany, NY there are a few job openings as a result of this. I saw a very simple technology specialist position open up that is paying $50,000 + government benefits for kids straight out of college. The economy is fine as long as you are in the right field.

Shortage Or Willing? (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937824)

I think it has more do with finding IT workers willing to work in the field then it does a actual shortage. I can only speak for myself but I just don't see many positive aspects to working in health IT.

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