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9/6/2012
09:32 AM
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New Group Connects Independent Health IT Consultants

Founder of Association of Independent Health IT Professionals envisions hub for consultants to share ideas, buy health insurance, find info about going it alone.

 Health IT Pros Face Salary Gap
Health IT Pros Face Salary Gap
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A newly formed health IT trade organization is aimed squarely at independent consultants and the professional issues they and the industry face.

The Association of Independent Health IT Professionals (AIDHIT), launched Aug. 14, as a means of helping consultants find affordable health insurance, but also as a way to connect people searching for answers about how to operate independently.

"I want to get down to the core of having professionals communicate with each other," AIDHIT founder Paul Schneider told InformationWeek Healthcare. Schneider, a registered nurse in Kansas City, Kan., with an MBA and a master's in information systems, moved into independent consulting more than a year ago after losing a job at electronic health records vendor Cerner.

"I couldn't find anything about anything anywhere," not even through nursing IT groups, Schneider recalled. Even on business social networking site LinkedIn, "There is no place consultants can talk to each other," he said. After running a small online survey a year ago, Schneider determined there was demand for an association for independent health IT consultants. "I found there was a lot of need out there for information about the space," he said.

He registered the AIDHIT name in December, contracted with association management software company Silkstart in June, and, later in June, reached an agreement with insurer JLBG to offer life, health, dental, and disability plans through www.aidhithealthplans.com.

[ Practice management software keeps the medical office running smoothly. For a closer look at KLAS' top-ranked systems, see 10 Top Medical Practice Management Software Systems. ]

Many hospitals require independent consultants to carry professional liability insurance for "errors of omission," according to Schneider, and he had trouble finding out where to obtain such coverage. Other consultants he has talked to were curious about how to set up benefit plans when they hire their own employees.

Beyond insurance, Schneider plans to launch a job board on the AIDHIT website this fall. The listings will be closely monitored to ensure job postings are for real job opportunities for consultants, he said. He also is considering educational and political functions for the organization, including whether to set up a scholarship program. "There are a lot of directions where this could go," he said.

Initially, Schneider is reaching out to other consultants via social media, though the going has been slow. As of Wednesday morning, AIDHIT had just 12 LinkedIn followers and an equal number of Twitter followers.

Sixteen people had "liked" the group's Facebook page. Schneider reported that the AIDHIT website has been receiving 50 to 100 hits a day, with the average visitor staying for 6.5 minutes.

Schneider, who is financing the launch out of his own pocket, does not expect to do a lot of advertising until the organization is somewhat self-sufficient. However, AIDHIT has reserved a booth at the 2013 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference in New Orleans in March.

AIDHIT annual dues are $179, though the first 100 members can register as charter members for $129. He said the price will never increase for charter members.

InformationWeek Healthcare brought together eight top IT execs to discuss BYOD, Meaningful Use, accountable care, and other contentious issues. Also in the new, all-digital CIO Roundtable issue: Why use IT systems to help cut medical costs if physicians ignore the cost of the care they provide? (Free with registration.)

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