When Is an Augmented Staff Necessary in Health IT?

augmented staff

Between the increase in demand for healthcare information technology (IT) services and their increased complexity, the workload on IT teams has become increasingly burdensome. Workers are feeling increasingly stressed, with nearly 60% of IT employees working more than forty-five hours per week. Furthermore, nearly 78% of employers are reporting challenges with IT hiring. The scarcity of IT expertise poses a significant challenge for organizations aiming to develop and maintain excellent IT.

Here, we explore the concept of staff augmentation as a means to alleviate the immense burden on healthcare IT teams, leveraging external experts and consultants to enhance their workforce.

Understanding Staff Augmentation in Healthcare IT

Staff augmentation refers to the process of adding external experts to a team to meet specific project needs. In healthcare IT, augmented staff can be brought in for several different purposes:

  • More human resources are needed, such as when health information from one electronic medical record (EMR) is being transferred over to another.
  • Temporary expertise is needed, such as transferring clinical trial data from internal storage systems to the cloud.

Augmented staff commonly come into an organization with the necessary skills and experience to complement the existing workforce because they have worked on similar projects at other institutions. Therefore, they have gained hands-on experience with technology that’s similar to what’s at your organization, so they can identify challenges and solutions faster. The augmented staff approach offers numerous benefits, including access to specialized expertise, reduced training time, and enhanced completion efficiency of IT projects within your organization.

The Overabundance of Work in Healthcare IT

The growing reliance on technology and increasing concerns about IT risk like cybersecurity have led to an overwhelming workload for healthcare IT teams. It is challenging for any one organization to have all the staff and expertise to carry out the diverse range of healthcare IT projects that are available, such as EMR data transfer, software cybersecurity securitization, and new software integration with EMR and accessible patient information portals. Moreover, healthcare IT frequently requires technological updates as cybersecurity risks and provider demands evolve.

Between delivering on new projects and maintaining existing technologies, your in-house IT team can quickly feel overwhelmed and limited in their ability to appropriately meet project timelines and allocate resources. This strain can ultimately result in a compounding effect as team members turn over, exacerbating the staffing shortage for the remaining work.

Leveraging Staff Augmentation to Alleviate Workload

Staff augmentation provides a solution by bringing in external experts to assist healthcare IT teams. The augmented staff offers specialized skills and experience to tackle specific needs, particularly in large projects like EMR overhauls. Alternatively, they can support your team in an upcoming busy period, such as stress-testing the cybersecurity of your technology. For example, staff augmentation helped the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center quickly adopt and offer patients telemedicine options.

Maximizing Resources and Completing Projects on Time

By utilizing augmented staff, healthcare organizations can optimize resource allocation because they will have greater flexibility. Importantly, in-house staff members will benefit from reduced involvement in one-time projects, as they can focus on learning new skills and preparing for upcoming endeavors. In-house staff also may experience greater job satisfaction because they can work on projects that better suit their interests and experience growth as they gain mastery over the skills and projects that require a longitudinal time horizon. External experts are simply dedicated to completing tasks within a specific timeframe.

With their previous experience, augmented staff are less likely to need a trial-and-error period to figure out how to address a problem, as they have already encountered it, saving your team and organization time. Moreover, they can serve as guides to teach your in-house staff the essential details of the work and ensure that they have enough knowledge to maintain developed IT systems and fix future problems, accelerating the overall learning process.

Best Practices for Implementing Staff Augmentation in Healthcare IT

Implementing staff augmentation requires careful planning and budgeting. Organizations should identify the specific skills and expertise required, budget costs appropriately, and develop a plan for integrating augmented staff seamlessly into the existing team. This can include clearly defining roles among all team members and discussing strengths and weaknesses to determine who is best suited for a given position.

Defining longitudinal or repetitive tasks can help in-house employees develop a stronger grasp of those responsibilities, whereas one-time events may be better suited for consultants, to maximize in-house staff’s time. The hiring organization can also identify the skills and knowledge deficiencies that they would like to improve upon with the help of their augmented staff, so opportunities can be created for knowledge sharing.

Potential Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Addressing concerns and resistance from internal team members is crucial when implementing staff augmentation. Internal staff should be advised in advance about what’s going to happen to their team, and their input should be sought to determine if the augmented team members will expedite the project’s completion or enhance team goals. Internal staff may feel embarrassed that they lack certain knowledge or skills, but the hiring organization should support and foster their growth by utilizing the augmented staff members’ knowledge and experiences to educate internal staff.

Occasionally, there may be a struggle between in-house staff and augmented team members on how an issue should be approached because they have different experiences. Clear expectations for working as a team should be established, and working styles should be explained so all team members can better communicate and understand each other. Generally speaking, the hiring team should allow the internal team members to retain leadership roles and guide the acclimation of augmented staff. This will help the in-house team embrace responsibility for long-term outcomes.


Augmented staffing gives healthcare IT teams a powerful solution to reduce the burden of work on in-house staff. Outsourced staff members can save your organization time by minimizing unnecessary experimentation and educating your in-house staff on the best practices that they have seen at other institutions. Most importantly, alleviating the workload strain of your employees can improve job satisfaction and retention, minimizing the risk of staff shortages in the long term.

Here at OtterSoft, we help healthcare technology providers drive innovation and integrate smoothly with legacy systems to keep things in motion, address the challenges of healthcare innovation, and seamlessly keep information in sync. Please get in touch with us today to see how we can help you overcome healthcare innovation challenges by strategically augmenting your team!