The Chief Health Information Officer (CHIO)

By Hillary Ross


Hillary Ross

The modern healthcare system continues to evolve, bringing accompanying change in the roles of healthcare leaders. One notable addition is the emergence of the Chief Health Information Officer (CHIO)—encompassing the technology and operational focus of the Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO) with a broader skill set and talent for strategy, transformation, and leadership.  Like the CMIO, the CHIO may still be the liaison between the clinical and IT staff, but more importantly, also the clinical strategist who leads a health system through the transition from a fee-for-service to fee-for-value model.  My colleague Zachary Durst and I had the chance to share our observations about this new leadership role in “From Liaison to Leader: The Emergence Of The CHIO,”  recently published by the HealthsystemCIO website. 

Zachary Durst

Zachary Durst

Most CHIOs not only have a deep understanding of technology but also appreciate how to leverage ROI to help transform their health system. More than that, they are executives who are able to present their vision to the C-suite and the Board and then lead the path to the implementation of their transformative vision. This requires a high-level visionary who is able to understand the interaction between analytics, research, informatics, finance and IT, and lead teams comprising analysts, informaticians, clinicians and operational leadership.

We see that CHIOs exist in the most progressive organizations which have already fully implemented electronic health records, and have moved to EHR optimization. The CHIO must be able to provide prioritization for those initiatives that will yield the most benefit in terms of improving patient care, making resource utilization more efficient, and moving forward strong initiatives for population health. Healthcare systems looking to fill this role must recruit physician leaders with the critically important mix of healthcare IT knowledge, unique vision, strong executive leadership and the capability to transform their organization.


Hillary Ross is a senior partner with Witt/Kieffer and leader of the firm’s IT practice. She specializes in searches for CMIOs, CHIOs, informatics, research, quality and other senior-level information technology positions. The article was co-written by Zachary Durst, a senior associate in the firm’s IT practice.

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