Do health care executives need to double as security experts?

August 13, 2014

Cyber security has every smart company scurrying to hiring agencies to find top-notch IT professionals. Some, however, are passing over candidates with strong technical backgrounds because they don't know the parameters of the industry sector for which they're applying. This means companies are trying to find a business executive with IT capabilities, and that can be a very difficult task.

Setting-up candidates for failure
By trying to combine two vital operational disciplines businesses are using a recipe for failure, an Information Week story said. According to the article it will take a company upwards of a year to to discover they made the wrong hire. During that time frame, while the company is slowly seeing its mistake, more damage can take place within the organization. Instead of incurring loss of time, money and employee services, the Information Week story suggested making the correct hire the first time.

Executives hold dual roles
At the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, officials launched an innovative program where the hospital president, Leslie Davis, also works in leadership at a second hospital in the Center's medical network. UPMC is combining top level jobs in to streamline efficiency and to provide more and better patient care. Davis told the Pittsburgh Tribune Live that she has a support staff that helps her greatly.

"The president having a couple of hospitals is not quite as dramatic as it may sound because there is a dedicated team on the ground," Davis explained.

The regional health care provider is requesting that its presidents serve as the head of two facilities within the network. That's a trend, said the Tribune, that is happening more often in health care and is projected to continue as providers look to cut costs and increase efficiency. In 2012 Davis made more than $750,000, according to tax documents, but departing executives salaries of more than $450,000 are expected to help offset costs in 2014.

Because executives are running all aspects of multiple operations in Pittsburgh, some experts remain concerned about security operations and protecting vital patient information from incursion or theft. Information Week said it is much more important to bring someone in with IT experience than it is a business whiz which is something health care needs to do across the sector. It claimed too many hospitals use vendors and contract employees, and some don't have IT staffers, let alone executives, to implement whatever security is on site.

Staffing agencies have their work cut out for them to try to find qualified IT professionals in an environment where many providers are cutting corners. Not taking any action could leave them open to big problems if their security is not compliant with the latest technology.