10 Hottest Healthcare IT Developer and Programming Skills

A convergence of technology, legislation and mandated migration to ICD-10 medical classifications make healthcare one of the hottest areas within IT. Here's a look at the skills most in demand, who's hiring and where the jobs are.

healthcare IT skills

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the healthcare industry is leading the market in jobs creation. This shouldn't be surprising when you consider all that's going on within healthcare and the technology needed to support it. So what type of programming and developer skills are healthcare employers looking for?

CIO.com worked with Indeed.com, a job aggregation website that reports 1.5 billion job searches per month, to find out the where the jobs are, who's looking to hire and what developer and programming skills are hot within this growing job market.

*Salary information is not HIT specific. It is the industry average.

healthcare IT skills
Where the Jobs Are

Let's begin with where the most healthcare IT jobs are within the U.S. According to Indeed's data, Boston; Washington, D.C.; and New York City top the list of cities with the most HIT developer jobs.

There are a number of factors to consider if you're going to a new city for a job. For example, salary, the cost of living, traffic and commuting conditions all play an integral part of the decision-making process when considering changing locations.

healthcare IT skills
Who Hiring in Healthcare IT?

According to Indeed, these employers are looking to increase their workforce and offer the most opportunities for job seekers. These 10 companies, of course, represent only a small percentage of companies hiring in the healthcare IT sector, but they are a great place to start your search.

SQL
SQL

SQL (Structured Query Language) was originally based on relational algebra and tuple relational calculus, and consists of a data definition language and a data manipulation language that is used for managing the data in a relational database management system (RDBMS). One of the most useful healthcare IT skills, SQL enables developers to insert query, update and delete data, as well as create and modify schema creation and data access control.

"This is very useful in a hospital environment. Server admins may utilize it to maintain database systems and some HIS systems. It's used to audit and maintain many medical systems that store data in SQL format," says Ken Montgomery, former supervisor of network and operations at Wooster Community Hospital.

Java
Java

Java was created and released in 1995 at Sun Microsystems by James Gosling as a core component of Sun's Java platform. The syntax of Java comes mostly from C and C++, although it features less low-level facilities than the two programming languages. Java was designed to have few implementation dependencies, and is considered to be a general-purpose, concurrent, class-based, object-oriented computer programming language that allows developers to "write once, run anywhere" (WORA), providing platform independence with no recompiling necessary.

In the healthcare industry, Java is popular for the creation of small to large embedded devices, and is often used for the development of remote patient monitoring applications and diverse and robust sensors.

HTML
HTML

The HyperText Markup Language, or HTML, is the premier building block of the Web, and is used for the creation of Web pages, and with the advent of the latest version, HTML5, Web applications. A standard Web browser, whether it's Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Opera or the mobile Dolphin browser, reads HTML-based documents and converts them into visible or audible Web pages by reading the HTML tags to interpret and display the contents of the page. By creating apps using HTML5, healthcare workers are able to access the same data regardless of the Internet-connected device they are using.

JavaScript
JavaScript

JavaScript is a multi-paradigm language that supports object-oriented, imperative and functional programming styles. It's an interpreted programming language whose key design principles were taken from the Self and Scheme programming languages. JavaScript was originally used within Web browsers so that client-side scripts could provide user interaction, browser control and asynchronous communication, as well as the capability to alter the displayed document content.

JavaScript has evolved into a prototype-based scripting language that, along with HTML5 and CSS3, is used for game development and full-fledged healthcare application development.

XML
XML

The use of standards is pivotal in providing healthcare providers with the capability to interoperate and share patient records more effectively. XML, the Extensible Markup Language, is an open standard markup language which is used to define a set of rules for encoding documents in a human-readable and machine-readable format. It is often used for the representation of arbitrary data structures and emphasizes simplicity, generality and usability. "XML is becoming more widely used in interfacing between systems, providing a standard architecture," says Montogomery.

C#
C#

The C# programming language is a multi-paradigm language that involves imperative, generic, declarative, procedural, functional, class-based, object-oriented and component-oriented programming disciplines that provide developers with the functionality needed to create sophisticated applications for the healthcare industry, including Electronic Medical Records (EMR) Systems, Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS, LIS), EMR Alerting Systems and more.

Created by Microsoft as part of its .NET initiative, C# was meant to be a simple, modern, general-purpose, object-oriented programming language, but has proven itself to be much more.

C++
C++

C++ is an intermediate-level programming language that includes the functionality of both high-level and low-level languages. It was created by Bjarne Stroustrup in 1979 at Bell Labs, and was originally called C with Classes, as it added object-oriented features--most notably classes--to the C programming language.

C++ is still one of the most popular programming languages, and is used as an efficient compiler for native code. It's used for system software, device drivers, high-performance client-server software and among other uses in the healthcare industry, it's used to provide the internal functionality of medical imaging analysis devices. "C++, C and C# are all used in back-end programming of HIS systems," says Montgomery.

ASP.NET
ASP.NET

Unlike the other technologies covered here, ASP.NET is a server-side Web application framework that was designed by Microsoft in 2002 to enable developers to create dynamic websites, Web applications and Web services. It was created as the successor to Microsoft's Active Server Pages (ASP) technology, and was built on the Common Language Runtime (CLR), which allowed programmers to code ASP.NET using any supported .NET language.

ASP.NET is used within the healthcare industry for the creation and implementation of Web-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application suites, electronic payment processing systems, healthcare data management systems and more.

PHP
PHP

PHP--which initially stood for Personal Home Page and is now a recursive acronym that stands for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor--is a server-side scripting language that is most commonly used for Web development, but is also used as a general-purpose programming language. It was created by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1995, and is now installed on more than 200 million websites.

A Web server that has the PHP processor module installed interprets the PHP code that is embedded in an HTML document, but it can also be used in standalone graphical applications or even through a command-line interface. It is still often used in the healthcare industry, for example, in the instance of Mindfire Solutions, to create a Web-based Secure Electronic Health Record management application.

C
C

C is the oldest programming language covered in this slideshow. It was developed by Dennis Ritchie between 1969 and 1973 at AT&T Bell Labs. It has facilities for structured programming and allows lexical variable scope and recursion, and was designed with a static type system to provide unintended operations. It’s a general purpose programming language that provides constructs that are able to efficiently map to normal machine instructions and is therefore often used in legacy applications that were previously developed using assembly language, especially system software such as that of the Unix operating system. Many healthcare institutions still rely on computers that are running Unix, and, for that reason, C programming continues to be a vital skill within the industry.