Healthcare CIO
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Healthcare CIO: A Roadmap for The Role

What an interesting week in the world of the Healthcare CIO.

Becker’s conference this year provided us some insight into the role of the Healthcare CIO as it evolves. We had great talks from Ed Marx, the newest CIO of the Cleveland Clinic, and Shafiq Rab, also newly-appointed in the role of CIO for Rush Medical in Chicago. The always-entertaining Jonathan Manis, CIO of Sutter Health, left us with several memorable quotes. David Chou also started a conversation on LinkedIn about the transformative role of the CIO.

So, what did we learn?

Ed Marx gave a passionate speech about putting “heart” back into healthcare IT. He emphasized that the role of the CIO is to inspire and lead with passion. Shafiq delivered a vision for the community health, in which the CIO organizes the work of community partners and vendors in the delivery of better care.

Jonathan Manis just flat-out said, “The role of the CIO in its current form will not exist in five years.” This isn’t a new concept; Ed Marx wrote on this back in April. David Chou makes reference to the role of the CIO as a digital transformation leader. He states that we will be a primary influencer of the organization as it makes the transition to a digital future that, as of yet, hasn’t revealed itself.

What did we learn? We learned that the CIO is primarily a leadership role… whatever the title is in five years.

Let’s take a look at the evolution of the role over time, what we should have learned, and what we will need as we move forward. It is a framework, it isn’t meant to be comprehensive.

Role of the healthcare CIO

Clinical Transformation

Migrating, or standing up, an EHR project within healthcare will be one of the most complex and challenging projects a CIO will ever tackle in their career. We learn organizational change management and how to operationalize change within an organization. These are two skills we will utilize the rest of our career.

We partnered with many during these projects, but the primary partners are our clinical colleagues. If we learned these skills, we would be well-positioned as leaders who could usher in the digital transformation era.

IT Transformation

We’ve gone through many IT transformations throughout our career if we have any grey hair. Identifying the best technology, hiring and retraining staff, and managing vendors should all be core competencies that we learn in these projects.

The current IT transformation is to dev-ops, containers, and cloud. This journey never ends — we will always be looking at the next round of technologies that can differentiate our company. Our partner in this is the Chief Technology Officer or a vendor, depending on the size of your organization.

Data Science

Simple reporting became data marts, which became big data. In the process, we went from hiring analysts to data scientists.

The CIO who understands how to tell compelling stories with data, and how to lead a data-driven organization to better outcomes, is invaluable in any role. During this phase, we partnered with operational leaders and many of us hired a new partner in the Chief Data Officer.

Digital Transformation

The CIO who has learned the lessons of the first three transformations will be ready for this digital transformation. For it, you will need all of these other skills.

Digital Transformation of healthcare has the potential to be disruptive in many respects. We will have to be able to look at the data, tell a compelling story, identify the technologies which may have an impact, and lead both organization and operational change.

In this phase, we will be introduced to our external customers. We will do this in partnership with Chief Marketing Officers and Chief Digital Officers. There is an aspect of internal digital transformation, as well, that will utilize AI, IOT, Block Chain, and machine learning, amongst other technologies. This will impact everything from supply chain to billing.

Business Transformation

If you layer the skills already learned, you are ready to lead business change. Shafiq demonstrated this so well in bringing groups together, both internal and external, to solve some of the stickier problems of population health. Our partner here is the Chief Strategy Officer and the CEO.

The profile of a successful CIO will be one that provides leadership. Technology is the tool, leadership is the job. If we want to be more specific, it is change-leadership. You should be adept at this point in your career in leading an organization through disruptive change.

I strongly encourage you to review what these men said. Look at how they said it, and consider its application to your role.

The CIO has a critical place in all of these major movements. If you learn the lessons of each, you will have value in the organization regardless of the title you carry.  Perhaps some of you will end up with that CEO role… it wouldn’t surprise me.

Hope this helps. Want to discuss this further? You can reach me at [email protected] or follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn.