Equally critical are employees who grasp how introducing technology into medicine changes how care is administered.
"I need an analyst who really understands how it is you can take a paper-based office environment and then move it to this new world of using electronic records because it isn't just digitizing paper," said Halamka. "So they really have to understand how do you leverage the technology and change processes in order to move doctors from what they may have been doing for 30 years to a new world. You understand what the EHR does. You understand how tablets, printers and iPads are part of the equation."
Beyond IT skills, Halamka looks for candidates who "have a working vocabulary of health care" and are familiar with the industry's privacy, security, compliance and regulatory aspects.
Halamka also finds his organization competing with EHR vendors for staff. Candidates may find vendors' fast growth and lucrative salaries more appealing compared to a nonprofit hospital's offerings, he said. However, Beth Israel Deaconess' status as a Harvard University medical school hospital gives him an edge over private companies.
"There is some reputation at Harvard hospitals of being innovative," he said. "And to be part of that innovation is maybe appealing to people. People have different motivating factors. Generally when you are talking about a nonprofit you enjoy the atmosphere, you enjoy the mission. You feel the health care itself is something you are passionate about."