CMIOs building strategic identity

March 27, 2015 in Medical Technology

With a “C” in the title and making $323,000 on average, Chief Medical Information Officers, or CMIOs, find their time divided evenly between strategic initiatives and more tactical initiatives/operational responsibilities. The group at large looks for ways to increase strategic involvement and it is showing progress.

The challenge to increase strategic involvement is a key focus for the latest SSi-SEARCH study. It includes an in-depth survey with detailed responses from more than 220 executives with CMIO responsibilities. The retained, executive search firm continues to track and monitor the evolution of this role, which began when the firm was launched, nearly 10 years ago.

The annual survey thoroughly explores strategic alignment for the role of CMIO.

First, we see an overall good alignment with system priorities across a wider spectrum of initiatives with the exception of a few gaps.

[See also: Do CMIOs have an identity complex?]

Second, CMIOs say they are spending a disproportionate amount of time on EHR activities in comparison to what they perceive as being the organization’s priorities. The No. 1 area, where CMIOs wish they could spend more time, is population health initiatives. 

Throughout the survey, we saw CMIOs focus on achieving greater strategic alignment with the system’s priorities.

Third, we looked at where the role is going. While the role of CMIO still carries many titles, for example,  Director of Clinical Informatics, the function performed by these executives appears to be increasingly strategic. We see the strategic elevation in the role carrying the name Chief Health Information Officer. We also see a growing need for physician executives who know how to leverage technology throughout the C-suite, including Chief Medical Officers. The growing awareness of the criticality of technology throughout the health system spurs the strategic evolution of the role.

[See also: CIOs ramp up strategic focus.]

Looking ahead, it is not surprising that CMIOs tell us that the most important capability they need to acquire to meet the future challenge of their role is data analytics, noted by half the respondents, followed closely by a desire to improve their operational/ management skills. A similar response was noted in the annual CIO survey, first data analytics and second was clinical expertise.

Both CIOs and CMIOs say that they will acquire or improve in these areas by partnering with a team member who has particular strength there. This is where we see the natural fit between these two leaders. The CIO brings the operational/management skills that the CMIO seeks to build. The CMIO brings the clinical expertise that the CIO needs to fill an important gap on the team. The fact that both groups look to fill these gaps through partnership points to a potentially productive and powerful leadership dyad.

Next we examine what the CMIO’s key skills and strategic relationships are and how they can be leveraged, in the third and last installment called “CMIO: The Patient Advocate.”

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