Essential Skills For Modern Healthcare CIOs

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The healthcare industry is constantly changing; the move to mHealth applications, social communication and EHR is changing the face of the industry and...

The healthcare industry is constantly changing; the move to mHealth applications, social communication and EHR is changing the face of the industry and the way patient care is delivered. With this in mind, it is no surprise that the role of a healthcare Chief Information Officer is also changing. CIOs are still primarily charged with overseeing the management of health information systems, managing health data and integrating clinical, administrative and business operations, however their role has developed to encompass mHealth systems, social management and online security.

Thought leaders within the medical IT space have emphasised the importance of the CIO in recent years. The purpose of a CIO is no longer solely based on clinical and administrative IT – but extends to supplying data and information to employees, executive leadership, financial planning and management and decision making. With a plethora of mobile devices, mobile apps and software solutions on the market, the CIO needs to understand the business requirements, needs to liaise with clinicians and manage IT from the top down.  

In order to succeed as leaders, CIOs and similar health IT leaders must possess two important skills: a knowledge of the business of healthcare and the ability to communicate and collaborate effectively.

“Yes, it’s important for them to communicate with the IT team that’s there, but they’ve got to be outside of that immediately,” Rich Miller, B. E. Smith’s Senior Vice Present of Talent Strategies & Information Technology claims. “They’ve got to understand where the issues are and how to attack that. And you’ve got to have that comfort with healthcare — with the hospital, physicians, and clinicians - to be able to immediately establish that relationship. That’s the only way you’re going to get results.”

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Given that health IT initiatives and mandates are pushing healthcare organizations and providers to exchange health information beyond the four walls of the institution, CIOs and healthcare executives cannot afford to work in isolation. With the advent of HIEs, you can’t live in your own environment. You have to start talking to your payers; you’ve got to talk to the patients and what’s on their minds.

And according to Miller, this outreach should be limited to the healthcare industry, although leaders within the field as valued resources. “I’m actually in favour of healthcare leaders and CIOs looking outside of healthcare, too. There’s incredible value in talking with a CIO or IT leader in the finance industry, for example. I don’t think we do that enough within healthcare,” Miller says.

With Stage 2 Meaningful Use and the conversion to the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10), the importance of CIOs and healthcare leadership is only likely to increase.


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