You can argue the value of additional regulations in health care and financial services until the cows come home, but as far as I'm concerned, it's a huge plus in terms of the IT employment picture.
As for financial services, there are a great many changes to come, not the least of which is that the biggest new employer in financial services will be the federal and state governments, according to Tom Pettibone, managing partner at Transition Partners, an outsourcing consulting group.
[ Read more about how financial and technology issues make Obama's EHR (electronic health records) push a significant challenge for IT. ]
Pettibone says there will be a huge amount of work with the FDIC, the SEC, and the Treasury Department, all of which are putting together regulatory systems for financial services.
"The government will be the fastest-growing job sector in the country," says Pettibone.
And the icing on the cake? Government IT projects can't be offshored. They can be outsourced, but only to U.S. companies. Beyond that, I'd like to save discussing the financial services sector for another column, and instead turn to health care.
EHR: Boom times for IT
Health care will experience a boom in IT-related jobs for many years to come. And the reason is simple: Compliance requirements for submitting bills for reimbursement to Medicare are growing more and more complex. It will take nothing less than IT specialists to manage and maintain EHRs, the backbone of the stimulus initiative that is driving the new regs.
I spoke with George Blumenthal, president and CEO of eHealth Made Easy, about what's going on in his industry as affected by the Fed's EHR initiative.
In order to qualify for the additional reimbursement, up to $65,000 per year for physicians in rural practices, $45,000 for those in cities, physicians must use a certified EMR (electronic medical record) offered by an increasing number of vendors. The requirements for certification are not complete, but they now include a "usability" factor, says Blumenthal -- that is, ease of adoption and use.
If we go no further than that, we can see that the demand for software engineers to develop applications will skyrocket, even before the service or package lands inside the doctor's office.
The second component is a requirement that the practice makes "meaningful use" of the EMR system. "Meaningful use" is further defined as the use of e-prescribing to a service that connects to a national backbone network such as SureScripts RX, which is currently sanctioned by the feds and in turn connects into the databases of insurance companies covering 200 million Americans.