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Embedding DEI initiatives into healthcare talent recruitment

Optimum’s Geoffrey Blanding shares training approaches to recruit the next generation of healthcare IT talent.
By admin
Feb 23, 2022, 10:00 AM

Attracting and retaining underrepresented talent in the healthcare IT workforce is not an easy task and requires an open mind and active changes from leadership. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives for recruiting the next generation of IT healthcare workers are necessary for organizations to develop now. 

Geoffrey Blanding, Executive Vice President at Optimum Healthcare IT, leads an innovative career path program that started about a year-and-a-half-ago at the organization. The focus is on introducing new candidates to the  healthcare IT field by providing a 12-week training on everything from payment methods and health plan nuances, to regulatory issues. The program also gives each applicant time to focus on a specific tech platform such as Epic, Salesforce or cybersecurity.

Leaders work along with CHIME instructors to enlist “fresh blood” into healthcare IT by offering to up-skill people without previous healthcare experience. 

Along with skills training, employees in the program preparation for working with clients and bulking up resumes for future opportunities, all while getting paid as a full-time employee. 

So what’s the biggest misnomer that recent college graduates have about healthcare IT? 

“The biggest thing is that they don’t realize it even exists,” Blanding said. “They are focused on working for Facebook, or Amazon, or the financial sector and they don’t realize that IT exists in the hospital right next door and that the IT department is mission critical.” 

Blanding and his team work to educate recent college graduates on the opportunities available. For example, Optimum goes to partnering universities to speak with diverse student groups such as women in STEM. They also send out recruiting teams to target people within the first three years post-college about opportunities around the country. 

“We’ve seen that it is important to communicate to Millennials and Gen Z that we have a focus on diversity and its importance to companies in healthcare IT,” Blanding said. “And it is mission critical to incorporate diverse design ideas and interpretations.”

Another hurdle for a team is working with a traditional, risk-averse industry like healthcare and convincing the C-suite this is the recruit path for the future success of the business. Often when a healthcare company is looking to hire, they want someone with 10 to 20 years of experience in IT. Part of Blanding’s job is to explain that the jobs today did not exist more than five year ago. He also believes it’s important that leadership understands how to look beyond a resume to find the next-generation of talent.

Be open to new ways of recruiting and new types of employees not traditionally seen in healthcare,” recommended Blanding. “We need to expand how we think about diversity—age, generational and cognitive. The bigger institutions get hung up because on the one hand, diversity is important, but on the other hand, they are not going about recruiting and managing correctly to meet these diversity goals.” 

Blanding will be presenting “Real Deal DE&I for Hiring & Retention,” at the ViVE event on Tues., March 8.

Read more of our ViVE event coverage:


Jacqueline Renfrow is a journalist with more than 20 years of experience reporting on and writing about the intersection of healthcare, education, and retail with technology. Living just outside of Washington, DC, she enjoys exploring all that the nation’s capital has to offer with her husband and three children in tow.

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