HIMSS 2018 Recap: By the Numbers

HIMSS 2018 proved to be a successful event once again for the Direct Consulting Associates Team. Four of our team members attended this year; Frank Myeroff - President, Ranae Rousse - VP of Sales, Tom Clark – VP of Operations, and David Duggan – Account Manager. DCA was able to collectively attend educational sessions, volunteer, network with HIT professionals, and visit several booths during the show.

A key highlight of the show for the DCA team volunteering at the Interoperability Showcase, a 30,000 square foot exhibition that demonstrates the interoperability imperative for connecting health and care. In total, the DCA team collectively volunteered 27.5 hours at the showcase!

Not only did DCA chalk up volunteer hours, they also tracked some impressive numbers in other areas during the show:

Meetings at the show: 69

Sessions attended in support of active clients and partners: 17

HIMSS Chapter events: 10

Steps taken (for just 3 team members who tracked): 188,784

Gambling Debt: only $100!

Overall, HIMSS 2018 offered the DCA team many networking opportunities, the chance to re-connect with partners, clients, and friends in addition to learning about new technologies in the space.  As the team recovers from the extensive amount of walking, DCA had a great time and looks forward to HIMSS19!

DCA Gearing up for HIMSS 2018

HIMSS 2018 is less than one week away and DCA is gearing up to join thousands of professionals and many of the companies on HIStalk's Guide to HIMSS18 to learn, network, and collaborate at the leading health information and technology conference. As the DCA team attends annually, there are five key tips and tricks to remember each year, or to take along with you as a first-time attendee.

  1. Be prepared before you leave for the conference. Do your research regarding keynote sessions, exhibitors, and educational sessions and be sure to establish what your goals are for the conference, what you plan on attending, or who you would like to meet. This will give you the opportunity to make a game-plan for the conference, and allow you to schedule meet-ups with other attendees. Downloading the HIMSS18 Mobile app can also help you plan.
  2. Get involved on social media before, during and after the show. Connecting with HIMSS Facebook page, as well as the HIMSS Twitter handle is just one extra way of networking and following what’s happening at the conference. Use the hashtag #HIMSS18 on Twitter and be sure to post your photos and insights including it to gain more traction with other attendees.
  3. Wear comfortable shoes, your nametag, and bring business cards and snacks. Being such a large conference, you will be doing a lot of walking; do yourself a favor and wear shoes that won’t hurt your feet, and snacks to keep you fueled all day. In addition, you should be prepared to brand yourself from wearing your nametag to handing out multiple business cards to other industry professionals.
  4. Take notes. Stay focused during the event, be sure to write down who you meet, interesting facts you learn, or reminders for follow-up after the conference. Listen and observe attentively and engage with as many professionals as possible.
  5. Enjoy the conference! Whether it is your first time attending, or you are a HIMSS conference veteran, enjoy the opportunity to connect with others in an environment focused on Healthcare IT and how to make it even better as a whole.

As DCA prepares to put these five tips into action, let us know about your experience at previous HIMSS events, what you are looking forward to, or if you have tips to add to our list. If you are attending HIMSS, the DCA team would be happy to schedule a time to meet up with you to network. Please contact a DCA team member to set up a convenient time to network!

David Duggan
Account Manager

Frank Myeroff

Tom Clark
VP of Operations

Ranae Rousse
VP of Sales

In a Candidate-Driven Market, HIT Hiring Managers Can Still Land Top Talent

September 19, 2017

This DCA article appeared on healthcare-informatics.com on August 10, 2017.

It’s no secret that the growth in healthcare technology has been outpacing the talent supply. The competition for technical talent is fierce. Hiring managers are scrambling to fill open positions and often times, without success. One big reason is that HIT professionals are getting as many as 20 recruiting calls per day. It’s a candidate-driven market and they have the latitude to be very selective.  Another reason is that your organization’s hiring process may be outdated, and therefore, no longer effective.  Making a few changes to meet these challenges might just be the solution:

Know your needs. Prior to announcing your open HIT opportunity or interviewing candidates, you need to develop a job description with selection criteria. The job description should provide a clear understanding of the job’s duties and minimal requirements. For example, if you’re looking for a software implementation specialist, you may need a candidate to have 3-plus years of experience in implementing software in a healthcare setting with 3-plus years configuration experience on Facets, HealthRules, Trizetto, Diamond, Amisys advance, or similar system. In addition, you need to make sure the job’s duties align with your organization’s vision. Time spent on creating a concise picture of the hard and soft skills, education, and IT experience required of a candidate and how they will fit best into your environment will have a payoff; namely that you and the candidate will be on the same page, leaving no room for ambiguity. You don’t want to lose your shot at choice talent due to a misunderstanding over job-related functions and requirements.

Speed up the hiring process. In the overall tech sector, unemployment is currently less than 2 percent, meaning the number of American technology professionals actively seeking employment is extremely low. For healthcare tech-related jobs, there aren’t enough qualified candidates to fill the growing number of positions.  So, it’s not surprising that when a passive or active HIT professional is ready to make a job change, they get snatched up quickly. In fact, they are often off the market within 10 days. Therefore, your organization needs to move quickly. It’s time to rethink the length of their hiring process. The mindset that a longer hiring process is helpful because it ensures they have adequate time to compare candidates and ensure that they are hiring the right person for the position, is so yesterday.A longer hiring process will only cause an organization to completely miss out on nearly every in-demand HIT candidate.

Offer attractive compensation. In a candidate-driven market, you’re at risk of losing top candidates by offering a mediocre compensation package. Therefore, before you even start interviewing for a position, you need to do your due diligence and come up with the best and appropriate combinations of salary, annual incentives, long-term incentives, and benefits. You may find that generous, even outrageous, offers are being made for qualified HIT candidates, including large base salaries, bonuses, stock options and many other perks.  Payscale.com is a good resource since it provides up-to-date information on the salary for healthcare IT professionals. Remember, candidates don’t just look for a reasonable paycheck. They want a package with different types of compensation.

Provide great candidate experience. A great candidate experience has become an integral part of the hiring process for every industry and organization including those in HIT. Don’t underestimate the importance of it. The experience begins even before a candidate walks through your door with such things as a full explanation of the job, frequent contact, and a rundown of your specific hiring process. Even little things mean a lot to candidates especially when arriving for the interview including a greeter, tour of the facility, introduction to future co-workers, and technology resources, etc.  Regardless whether you make the candidate an offer or not, they will tell others about you. If you treat them with respect, they’ll be your advocate. If you don’t, they may rant to friends and family and post on social media which could prevent top talent from looking your way.

Establish personal connection. According to CNN, the average American adult devotes about 10 hours and 39 minutes every day in front of tablets, smartphones, personal computers, multimedia devices, video games, radios, DVDs, DVRs, and TVs. It’s no surprise then that in today’s always-on world, job candidates are hearing back from employers via text messages. However, one of the top wishes of all candidates is being able to talk to a human during the recruiting and interviewing process.  A personal call will go a long way with a candidate and in establishing that vital personal connection. Even a brief chat can create a positive feeling about you and the organization.

Don’t overlook current employees. Because candidates are at a premium and you probably already employ some of the best HIT professionals, why not promote from within. Many organizations that are filling vacancies from their existing HIT workforce, found definite advantages besides a quick fix. For example, an existing employee already understands how the organization operates, knows the technology, fits the culture, has an existing relationship with the hiring manager, may need very little training, and most likely feels motivated by their career progression. Giving employees a career runway also helps with retention.

Be adaptable. This is no time to be inflexible. In fact, you probably will need to compromise since holding out for that one in a million HIT professional may not work.  This doesn’t mean you should settle for a bad hire. It simply means that you must be flexible in a market where IT talent is highly sought after. Therefore, if you have a list of 10 skills sets required, you may have to figure out what five are most important. Place more emphasis on hiring a person who is willing to learn, shows enthusiasm, and fits the culture.

What to Look for When Hiring Healthcare Cybersecurity Pros

By Bill Siwicki and posted on Healthcare IT News on Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Cybersecurity is not computer science or computer engineering, it is a business discipline that requires people from all backgrounds and majors.

Healthcare has special challenges securing information and devices. The consequences of a successful hack can be, at their worst, extreme results on people’s health and well-being. Medical records are worth more on the black market than identity data, and thus make health records particularly vulnerable to theft and ransomware attacks.

As a result, healthcare organizations hiring entry-level and senior security professionals should have certain abilities and areas of expertise in mind when studying job candidates, knowledge that differs based on the level of the job.

“For entry-level cybersecurity roles, candidates need to understand networks, applications, devices and how to secure them,” said Bret Fund, co-founder of SecureSet Academy, a cybersecurity education organization. “Differences will come once they’re in a role. In finance, for example, you’re looking through transactions and reviewing payment gateways. In healthcare, your focus changes to ransomware, exfiltration of data, and device security on a large scale.”

Cybersecurity is not computer science or computer engineering, it is a business discipline that requires people from all backgrounds and majors, said Mansur Hasib, program chair for cybersecurity technology at the University of Maryland University College, and author of the book “Cybersecurity Leadership.”

“There are four things that determine someone’s success: knowledge, attitude, skills, and habit,” Hasib said. “Attitude and habit determine success far more than anything else. Therefore, entry-level people should demonstrate they are excited about the mission of an organization and stress their attitude and habits to hiring managers.”

Entry-level candidates also should show passion for perennial learning and desire to innovate because cybersecurity is “people-powered perpetual innovation,” he added.

Senior positions, like the chief information security officer, require more skills, more knowledge and different degrees of each.

“Experience will be the key factor in dealing with the challenges and threats that are unique to healthcare,” Fund said. “CISOs and CSOs of tech companies will find it more complex than their previous roles. Given the choice between a senior security leader from a large tech company and a senior security leader with healthcare experience, hospitals will choose the healthcare background because the job requires a deeper understanding of the implications of breaches.”

Since prospects for senior-level positions have a job history to discuss, these candidates should be able to rattle off stories that demonstrate how they have used their knowledge, attitude, skills, and habits to deliver mission success, Hasib said.

“How did they enable an organization to maximize business benefits while minimizing business risks?” he explained. “They should share stories of how they fostered an innovation culture.”

Both education and experience are critical to the success of a candidate coming into a senior-level position. What they know and what they’ve been through and succeeded at will demonstrate to a healthcare organization their competence.

“We are seeing more creative and uncommon threats on the rise, particularly in the healthcare space,” Fund said. “Candidates should have a fundamental understanding of how to recognize and mitigate from their education, while their experience provides wisdom and maturity to combat threat actors in an effective manner.”

Lessons Learned from an Internship by Andrew Jenkins, Wittenberg University, Class of 2019

Honestly, starting as an Intern for a staffing and outsourcing company in the healthcare IT industry can be difficult at times.  Specifically, learning the new terminology and jargon has been one of the biggest challenges. This could be due to the fact that my experience with hospitals is as a patient, and my solution to IT problems is, “unplug it and plug it back in.” That being said, you can understand my apprehension when it came time to start here at DCA.

Granted, my role here at Direct Consulting Associates is as an intern for the summer, but, with my time here being so short, it was urgent that I pick up as much information as possible.

At first, I was eager to sit down at my desk, throw my earbuds in, tune out the busy office around me, and accomplish any task at hand.  Of course, the assignments given to me helped me understand what we do here at DCA, as did sitting in on meetings and team huddles. But, I was still seeking a further grasp of the Healthcare IT language.  So, how do I obtain a better understanding of all the diction used around me?

There is one critical method I have learned to help absorb useful knowledge of the industry.  Despite being hesitant to share this (for fear that my cubical mates might migrate away), I would have to declare my most important method to learning is listening to the people around me.

This listening has become pivotal because of the voices of DCA’s expert team of recruiters and researchers. As I sit at my desk, I listen to the constant conversations of our team, working closely with candidates and clients to provide the best services they can offer.  You can be told time and time again what certain words mean, but in my book, it is more helpful to hear an adept team use them.

Though a full grasp of this industry does not happen fast, I am slowly becoming familiarized with phrases like an “Epic Willow Analyst” or how certain health information systems are implemented.

Now, listening to the people around you may be great for learning some new information and terminology of your industry, but there is something arguably even more important you can gain from it: an understanding of the culture.

To me, being a college varsity athlete, it is music to my ears to hear teammates conversing and communicating to solve problems.  The culture here at DCA is no different. From team huddles every morning, to the relaying of information from researcher to recruiter, Direct Consulting Associates is truly a “team of teams.”