As health IT workers become harder to find, some payers are creating their own pipeline

With healthcare organizations increasingly being forced to compete globally for IT professionals, insurers are turning inward to begin fostering tech talent in-house.

Results from one new program came to fruition in October at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska, which has partnered with the state and Bellevue University on a workforce training program for IT employees called Ignite Nebraska.

The first class of graduates received six to 12 months of free job training at Bellevue and at BCBS' Omaha campus. BCBS said it will extend an offer of employment to graduates or provide assistance with finding a position locally. A second class is expected to begin training soon.

Earlier this year, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee launched its BlueSky Tennessee Institute, a similar college degree and training program aimed at fostering new IT talent for the company.

The first class of 32 students met with executives at the payer's Chattanooga campus in August to begin preparing for the 27-month program, which will be made up of classes and in-person IT applications.

Though the year-round program will take place on the BCBS campus, the students are enrolled at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City and will receive a bachelor's degree in computer science once completed. Curriculum will be based on ETSU's ABET-accredited Bachelor of Science in Computing with a concentration in information systems.

The program is free and offers paid internships in the second year. Students will be assigned a student success officer and an individual executive and IT mentor from BCBS. Upon completion, the payer is looking to hire the graduates in IT positions.

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