CMIOs in Healthcare: The Next Generation Makes Its Mark

By Hillary Ross

Hillary Ross

Hillary Ross

One of the most critical executive positions in healthcare is the CMIO. The CMIO role has been in place for well over a decade, long enough to evolve to the point that we are now seeing “second-generation CMIOs” making their mark on the industry.

First-generation CMIOs had significant responsibility for implementing clinical systems and being change agents in their organizations. They worked on an important and critical operational level. As I discussed with contributing editor David Raths of Healthcare Informatics recently, they were strong in implementation and were responsible for engaging physicians and staff, training and educating around clinical systems initiatives, and ensuring successful outcomes.

Second-generation CMIOs tend to be more strategic and visionary, engaged with senior executives on the high-level planning that goes into making the right investments in IT and leveraging informatics to improve costs, safety, and care. I encourage you to read Raths’ article, “The Rise of the Second-Generation CMIO,” to learn more about this trend.

Raths has also written a follow-up article on the topic, based on an interview with Chris Wood, M.D., CMIO at Loyola University Health System in Maywood, Illinois. Dr. Wood sees the second-generation evolving as well, noting that many organizations – and their CMIOs – are in a transitional phase. “Some health systems don’t know what to do with their CMIOs after the EHR [Electronic Health Records] implementation is done,” he notes. This will change over time, however, and more and more CMIOs will prioritize strategy over operations. “This isn’t an implementation job,” Dr. Wood says. “It is more of a job where the leadership, physicians and nurses are looking to get more out of information systems than they are currently able to.”

The CMIO role continues to be defined and the role is still very much organization-dependent. CMIOs play an integral role in health systems and are transforming along with their systems to optimize the technology and facilitate a ROI in terms of improving patient care, quality and saving costs.

About the Author

Hillary Ross, J.D. leads Witt/Kieffer’s IT practice. She is an experienced healthcare information technology executive search consultant specializing in the recruitment of CMIOs, Informaticians and other senior-level information technology positions.

Also read: Changing Roles for Medical Informaticist Executives: One Recruiter’s Perspective

Guide to Healthcare Succession Planning


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