Healthcare CIOs hit with big change

December 23, 2014 in Medical Technology

The role of the healthcare chief information officer is evolving rapidly, according to the annual CIO survey by executive search firm SSI-SEARCH. Its results show an increase in the number of female CIOs, more professionals earning advanced degrees and changes in compensation.

The purpose of the CIO study is to track a variety of factors to observe how the CIO role is evolving.  In 2013, the results of the annual CIO whitepaper were published under the subtitle “Healthcare’s Million Dollar Man,” exploring how life has changed since HITECH for the CIO.  Why million-dollar man? The title did not refer to compensation but to the CIO’s massive budgets and investments in large-scale EHR deployments. The survey also showed that the overwhelming majority of CIOs were male, hence the title “Million Dollar Man.”

[See also: CIO: No longer just ‘the IT guy’.]

The survey this year shows that is changing.

The picture of a ‘typical’ CIO emerged from 2013 survey data of 178 CIO-titled respondents, as follows:

  • Male (82 percent)
  • College degree (97 percent)
  • Graduate degree (61 percent)
  • $286,000 in salary was average on the 2012 W-2

The snapshot of a ‘typical’ CIO emerged from 2014 survey data of 169 CIO-titled respondents showed the following:

  • Male (75 percent)
  • College degree (97 percent)
  • Graduate degree (73 percent)
  • $288,000 was the average compensation on 2013 W-2

Notably, the 2014 survey shows a greater number of women respondents. Though we cannot say for sure why this is, we see this as a positive.  We also see another positive move, an increase in advanced degrees, from 61 percent to 73 percent.

[See also: Rethinking leadership in health IT.]

The SSi-SEARCH annual CIO study is not a compensation survey, though compensation is a key factor in the overall evolution of the role. Compensation (most recent W-2) saw only a slight increase from 2013 ($2,000). Looking at this from different perspectives, gender and education, offered some important findings.

Compensation in terms of gender:

  • Women CIO respondents reported an average annual income of $257,000;
  • Men CIO respondents reported earning $297,000, 16% more than women.

But don’t jump to conclusions yet…

Compensation in terms of education:

  • CIOs with a bachelor’s degree reported an average W-2 of $242,000
  • CIOs with a graduate degree reported an average of $286,000, 18% more than those without a graduate degree.  
  • A CIO with an MD (there were 10 in our sample) showed significantly higher earnings, at $406,250, or 42 percent more than those with a Master’s degree and 68 percent more than those with a Bachelor’s degree.

In terms of education, we also noted a gender gap:

  • 66 percent of women in the survey have graduate degrees
  • 76 percent of men surveyed have graduate degrees

Compensation in terms of tenure: The average tenure of a CIO remains at ten years from 2013 to 2014.

  • CIOs with 10 years or less of experience reported a W-2 of $263,000
  • CIOs with 11 years or more of experience reported a W-2 of $310,000, 18% more;
  • Men CIOs and women CIOs report the same number of years holding the title;
  • Men and women also changed jobs at about the same rate, 18% of men vs. 16% of women.  

Summarizing these findings, men earn 16 percent more than women, but men are also 15 percent more likely to hold a graduate degree. Looking at the data for both men and women, those with a graduate degree earn approximately 18 percent more than those without a graduate degree. Based on this information we might reasonably assume that there is no bias holding back CIO compensation for women.  Education was the key determinant of compensation for all CIOs, both men and women.

While the greatest factor impacting compensation in this study was education, we also noted that of the group, both men and women CIOs, only 7 percent reported that they believe “an advanced degree is going to help them meet the challenges for the future.”

We expect to see more women entering the CIO role and we expect the compensation gap to close rapidly. Thirteen percent of the women respondents report that they are pursuing additional or advanced degrees currently or they plan to pursue in the next 12 months. These are positive developments and we look forward to a more diverse and even stronger CIO field in the future.

Kyle Johnson, who joined the statewide Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems as system VP CIO earlier this year, offered this advice to women who want to move into the CIO role: “It’s important to always look for growth potential.  When you find the right fit, I recommend not waiting. Women have an advantage by being natural relationship builders.  It is going to take the power of strong relationships and trust to reinvent healthcare beyond 2020.”

Having earned her Masters in medical informatics in 2011, Johnson added, “I have been up against the glass ceiling multiple times in my career, but managed with a combination of advanced degrees and well-rounded experience.”

CIO Mary Alice Annecharico, SVP and CIO at Henry Ford Health System, who holds RN and MS degrees, offered, “Women need to believe in their innate abilities to engage and empower others to achieve great career goals. One of my personal objectives as a CIO is the development of leaders as stewards and strategic thinkers who can lead change by empowering others,” adding, “I no longer feel that C-suite careers have a glass ceiling any longer. Advanced degrees will be a differentiator for those women and men who want to advance. Business degrees matter. We are moving away from an environment of leading through influence and experience toward the requirements to think strategically and be data driven. The availability of data now compels CIOs to lead by teaching executives how to leverage data to change the business.”

This is the first in a series of reports from SSiSearch on the changing role of the healthcare CIO. We will publish more over the next three weeks.

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