electronic health records

Your next job: Electronic medical records professional

September 18, 2012: 5:00 AM ET

As your health history moves from the file cabinet to the hard drive, technicians are needed to make the switch.

By Alex Konrad, reporter

FORTUNE -- Why it's hot: Just two years ago, about one in five hospitals used electronic health records (EHR). Thanks to an incentive program from the government, the number is growing fast: More than 3,600 hospitals (about 72%) received payments to transition to EHR as of the end of July. Much of the work remains, and the health care sector is scrambling for technicians and consultants to aid the switch.

What you'll do: At the entry level, full-time employees take EHR templates from health care software companies and customize them to fit specific clinical needs. For example, if a specialist requires a history of patient allergies, EHR technicians will build such a history. Adam Shad, director of health care delivery for Kforce, a firm that manages EHR staffing, says the process is analogous to making a presentation in PowerPoint -- the template is there, but the content is not. Those with one or two years of experience can then work as outside consultants with flexible hours and higher pay.

What you'll need: For those without any prior knowledge, EHR-focused companies will provide their own eight- to 10-month training course. The most common way into the space is with a background in medicine, as a registered nurse, say, or as a medical assistant with a willingness to learn how to use the EHR software.

Who's hiring: Health care giants and software leaders: UnitedHealth Group (UNH), Epic, Allscripts (MDRX), HCA (HCA), eClinicalWorks.

What it pays: $50,000 to $60,000 at entry level; $70,000-plus for the experienced.

This story is from the September 24, 2012 issue of Fortune.

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