2021 started with the promise of vaccinations that could effectively beat the Covid pandemic. As the year wore on, spotty vaccination rates and new variants turned the year into a repeat of 2020. Healthcare information technology continued to adapt to the challenges by delivering results for clinicians and patients. A tight labor market means high demand for healthcare IT workers, and certifications continue to be the best way to break into this rewarding career path.
Security once again took the forefront as the largest healthcare data breaches hit integrated health systems, retail health divisions, and specialty practices. For these reasons, security-related certifications top the list again.
1. HCISPP – Healthcare Information Security and Privacy Practitioner
Making the list again is the HCISPP certification, which is aimed mostly toward medical records managers, risk manager, and security related managers. It is managed by the (ISC)2 organization; the nonprofit International Information System Security Certification Consortium, Inc. While not all IS security manager positions require this certification, I was able to find at least 800 jobs that did specifically call this out.
The HCISPP certification covers expertise in these six areas:
- Healthcare Industry Structure
- Regulatory Environment
- Privacy and Security in Healthcare
- Information Governance and Risk Management
- Information Risk Assessment
- Third Party Risk Management
HCISPP candidates need a minimum of two years of paid full-time work experience in one domain of these areas. The exam has 125 multiple choice questions, and requires a 70% passing grade. The exam costs $599 US to take through Pearson VUE. Source: (ISC)2 HCISPP.
2. CISSP – Certified Information Systems Security Professional
Also from the (ISC)2 organization is the next level in Information Security. Unlike the HCISPP certification, the CISSP designation is not specifically related to healthcare. It has a higher technical focus, commands a higher pay scale, and covers these eight areas:
- Security and Risk Management
- Asset Security
- Security Engineering
- Communications and Network Security
- Identity and Access Management
- Security Assessment and Testing
- Security Operations
- Software Development Security
CISSP candidates need to have a minimum of five years of work experience in two or more of the eight areas of expertise. Like the HCISPP certification, the CISSP 250 question exam has a passing score of 70%, and there are re-certification requirements. The exam costs $749 US to take through Pearson VUE. Source: (ISC)2 CISSPP.
3. MIT Health Leading Health Tech Innovation
New to the list this year is a six-week healthcare technology course from MIT School of Architecture and Planning. They have teamed up with esme learning to develop this course, which is based on launching new healthcare technology innovations. It is designed to help entrepreneurs identify a healthcare problem, develop a solution, secure funding, and bring the product, service, or venture to market. The online course costs $2,800.
As a clinical analyst, this course doesn’t really fit my career path, but there are sure to be people who will benefit from it. If you are looking for something to put on your resume from MIT, it is worth considering.
Source: MIT Health Leading Health Tech Innovation
4. Google Professional Certifications
Making a second year appearance is an offering from Google that in their minds will have as much weight as a college degree. The courses cost $300 each, are administered by Corsea, and are offered in these areas:
- Data Analyst
- Project Manager
- UX Designer
- IT Support Specialist
Kent Walker, Senior Vice President for Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer at Google tweeted his support for the new certifications:
The certifications are not specifically geared towards healthcare, but for a beginner, it’s hard to see a downside for considering them. The courses run between three and six months, and are entirely online. Learn more at https://grow.google/certificates.
5. Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)
Also new to the list for 2022 is the CRISC certification from the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA). This certification offers skills in identifying and managing risk in the IT enterprise. The exam cost is $575 for ISACA members, and $760 for non-members. Find out more at https://www.isaca.org/credentialing/crisc.
6. Amazon Web Services Certification
Amazon made several moves into the healthcare IT space in 2019, which is why they are on my list for the third year. There are currently many healthcare IT job listings on the major job sites that ask for AWS certifications.
AWS has three levels of certification, and I believe having any of them in addition to other healthcare IT certifications and skills will put workers in a good position. Find out more at Amazon Web Services Certifications.
AWS Certified Foundational Cloud Practitioner
This certification is the entry level AWS certification. It covers the basics of the cloud platform, and is targeted to those who are planning on more advanced technical certifications as well as those in management and sales roles who only need to know the basics. Amazon asks for at least six months of AWS experience in any capacity. The 90 minute exam is multiple choice and costs $100 US to take.
AWS Certified Associate
This second level of certification demonstrates the ability to deploy and maintain AWS cloud-based systems. In order to take the test, you need to have had at least one year of experience in problem solving and implementation of AWS cloud services. You can get the Associate level certification as either a Solutions Architect, Developer, or Systems Administrator. The exam is multiple choice, multiple answer, has a 130 minute limit, and costs $150 US.
This is the highest level of AWS certification, and requires you to have at least two years of comprehensive experience with designing, implementing, and supporting AWWS cloud services at an enterprise level. There are designations for Solutions Architect and DevOps Engineer. The 170 minute exam is multiple choice multiple answer, and costs $300 US to take.
There is also an additional professional level certification called AWS Certified Specialty that demonstrates advanced skills in the areas of advanced networking, big data, and security.
Amazon has also developed a competency designation that recognizes success in AWS services in a number of industries, including healthcare.
7. Health Information Technology College Programs
Traditional two and four-year colleges continue to be the best option for most people who want to get into healthcare IT. Most public universities offer these courses with certificates awarded with as few as 24 credits. They also have preparation courses for some of the other certifications mentioned here. Areas of focus include:
- Medical Terminology
- Healthcare Database Design
- Healthcare IT Regulations
- Information Systems Analysis and Design
- Introduction to Project Management
- Hands-on exposure to electronic health records systems
I am a big proponent of this option, and don’t advise anyone to attend for-profit colleges.
8. Certified Professional in Healthcare Information & Management Systems (CPHIMS)
This is a certification offered by HIMSS, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. This organization really is the premier authority source for healthcare IT. They have many contributors at high levels, and are known for a spirit of excellence. The exam is 115 questions, and certification is required every three years. Areas of study include:
- General (Healthcare Technology Environments)
- Systems (Analysis, Design, Selection, Implementation, Support, Testing and Evaluation, and Security)
- Administration (Leadership and Management)
It does however have some fairly steep prerequisites that will shut out newcomers to Healthcare IT. You need either a four-year degree plus five years of IT and management systems experience (three being in Healthcare), or a Graduate degree plus three years of IT and management systems experience, two being in Healthcare. The exam costs $399 US for HIMSS members and $549 US for non-members. Testing is scheduled through Prometric Testing Centers. Source: Certified Professional in Healthcare Information & Management Systems (CPHIMS)
9. CAHIMS (Certified Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems)
The CAHIMS certification is a junior-level version of the CPHIMS, and is much easier to qualify for. All you need is a high school diploma. The exam is 115 questions, and some of the areas of study are:
- Organizational Environment
- Technology Environment
The exam costs $199 US for HIMSS members and $359 US for non-members. Testing is scheduled through Prometric Testing Centers. Source: CAHIMS (Certified Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems)