Alpharetta health care IT giant to lay off 174

Regulatory and financial tumult in the health care industry hit home Friday as Alpharetta’s McKesson Provider Technologies confirmed the dismissal of 174 employees.

The jobs are good ones: software engineers, systems analysts, project managers. Software engineers, for example, earn between $70,000 and $100,000 a year, said Tracy Chastain, a senior vice president for human resources for McKesson.

Atlanta business and political leaders tout health care, and McKesson in particular, as an “industry of the future,” a high-tech remedy for double-digit unemployment. Chastain, though, cautions that many of the affected workers could find work in other McKesson divisions. A “redeployment” job fair gets under way next week.

McKesson, headquartered in San Francisco, employs 1,500 in Alpharetta and 3,700 across Georgia. Chastain said the layoffs result from a change in software systems provided to hospitals to streamline operations and reduce costs.

“The market is changing quickly because of health care reform, and that’s created a competitive need for hospitals to be efficient,” Chastain said.

Atlanta is a national leader in health care information with roughly 200 IT companies located across the region, many in Alpharetta. More than 16,000 people are employed in Georgia’s health care information technology sector, according to the Metro Atlanta Chamber.