Hospitals retrain data center employees amid shift to the cloud

Tufts hired temporary workers and brought in consultants to fill data center positions so that full-time employees had time to be trained. “You have to support your team for them to succeed,” said Dr. Shafiq Rab, chief digital and information officer at Tufts Medicine.

Employees who completed training and earned certifications were placed in the health system’s cloud center of excellence. About 35 people work in the center, roughly 60% of whom previously worked on in-house data centers, Rab said.

Many of the new staffers were hired to work on Epic Systems electronic health records software, which is new to Tufts Medicine. Not all new employees had cloud training, Rab said. Tufts Medicine hired them based on “attitude” and “aptitude,” even if they still needed training, he said.

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Cloud skills are highly valued in the job market, so health systems should prepare to boost salaries to retain reskilled employees, said Joseph Williams, Seattle director of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

“In some cases, people work for a health system because they love the mission,” Williams said. “But at the same time, nobody wants to walk away from a better salary.”

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Despite the risk that health systems will invest in retraining workers only to lose them to other employers, recruiting whole new teams to replace them would be at least as costly, he said.

A blended approach that combines retraining current employees who understand company culture and hiring workers already adept at the cloud could be the most effective, said Probal Hasan, a partner at technology consulting firm West Monroe. Health systems also should communicate whether they’ll be retraining data center staff early in the process so employees know how their jobs will change, he said.

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