Four Core Hospital Leadership Takeaways From Peer CIOs

Celebrating 30 years, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) has grown from 192 initial CIO charter members back in 1992 to over 5,000 members and 190 Foundation firm partners today. Looking back on the past three decades and the significant evolution of the hospital CIO role, our team compiled four core leadership takeaways from CHIME member colleagues that will resonate with healthcare organizations of all sizes for the future of health IT.

  1. Digital enablement: To sustain digital transformation efforts, digital enablement tactics must span all user types — patients, physicians, support staff, operational teams, and the business office. Each serves as a vital step in the care continuum. IT leaders should create a Digital Enablement Committee (DEC) that addresses each area. To ensure buy-in for any committee initiatives and digital enablement strategies, secure feedback from super users across all departments and include non-IT executive commitment in this goal. Every single end user’s EHR experience and interaction with IT ultimately funnels down to impact patient care (and potential care or decision-making delays). Positive patient experiences, especially in this competitive era of healthcare consumerism, cannot be achieved without improving IT for all users across each step in the care journey.

  2. Healthcare CIO buyer focuses: As digital technology increasingly supports healthcare leaders in revolutionizing care, CHIME’s Digital Health Most Wired Survey explores the top digital transformation priorities attracting the CIO buyer’s attention. According to survey results, cybersecurity is currently the top digital priority among healthcare organizations, and 60% of hospitals and health systems now have a CISO dedicated to leading information security.

    Despite challenges from the pandemic, the majority of healthcare organizations (60%) are still on track to complete their digital transformations in a timely manner, as reflected by the record number of organizations that achieved Most Wired Level 10 status this year. Hospitals and health systems are more frequently investing in new technologies to improve both patient and clinical experiences, while simultaneously differentiating themselves to stand out to consumers. This includes leveraging technology to improve clinical safety measures and strengthening their ability to meet patient needs in areas like access or transparency. CIOs are primarily responsible for spearheading such tactical technological innovation. Across the industry, innovation investments toward patient empowerment also remain a competitive focus. For example, The University of Utah Health is piloting a program where clinicians can immediately address patient concerns on site, based on digital questionnaire feedback.

  3. Making sense of data: The most effective way to create meaningful change through health IT data, is to tell a compelling story based on the information or trends. Storytelling sells data. Without it, any data that healthcare leaders gather or present is meaningless. According to the Most Wired Report, 80% of healthcare organizations have predictive analytics deployed for clinical workflow and 81% use near real-time analytics for clinical quality metrics, yet only 40% have established a data literacy program for interpreting, writing and communicating data in context.

    To leverage meaningful HIT data analytics — and elicit the most return from current IT investments — both IT and non-IT executives must understand the story behind the data and how this can lead to positive change. To get through to extremely busy clinicians and department heads, omit needless words and make messaging concise (with visuals), focusing on Master Data Management tools. Successful healthcare CIOs know how to use data with a convincing narrative to support the goals they aim to achieve.

  4. Where the CIO role is headed: As the role has evolved alongside technology, the CIO has gone from an individual entity to a team-based position. CIOs have some of the greatest power within their healthcare organizations to create positive change. The COVID-19 pandemic immensely propelled hospitals and health systems to realize the significance of the role and give more command at the decision-making table. To accomplish any transformational goals, CIOs must have the trust of their IT teams and fellow c-suite executives.

    The healthcare CIO of the future is not only involved in an organization’s digital direction, but also acts as a key strategist in business transformation. Prioritization is key in keeping up with competing CIO responsibilities, but, revenue cycle capture is top of the list, as most hospitals struggle with current financial recovery.

    With an industry focus on digital transformation, many CIOs are looking to change their title to Chief Information Digital Officer. CIOs will likely complete the same work regardless of title, unless the organization is so large that it requires separate CIO and CDO positions. As the CIO role has evolved, the face of the executive has too, with more women and diversity in the position than ever before.

How do these key themes compare to your facility’s strategic concentrations? For additional insight into CIO peer pain points and spending priorities, make sure to also access the 10th annual Health IT Industry Outlook Report.

Strategize Your IT Roadmap

Strategize Your IT Roadmap

Stoltenberg Consulting solely serves the healthcare industry. Trust our team's extensive EHR expertise to build your health system's competitive IT strategy forward for value-based care alignment. Contact our executive team today.