Burda on Health

Understanding Your CIO

Twenty things you need to know about a healthcare CIO

I’ve met them.  I like them. But sometimes I find it a little difficult to connect with them because I don’t think we have much in common. They are healthcare chief information officers, and they hold the keys to unlocking the power of data to improve patient care and the business health of your healthcare organization. Given that, it would behoove other members of the c-suite, particularly CEOs, COOs, CFOs and CMOs, to know where CIOs are coming from as their own respective careers becomes increasingly dependent on the performance of their CIOs.

With that in mind, I scoured through four recent reports based on surveys, polls or interviews with healthcare CIOs. My goal was pulling out 20 things every CEO, COO, CFO and CMO should know about a healthcare CIO that will help them work together to improve their mutual performance.

The reports, in alphabetical order by sponsoring organizations, are:

Here’s what I think are the 20 biggest takeaways for healthcare senior executives if they want to know their CIOs better and work with them more effectively.

1). Healthcare CIOs earned an average base salary of $208,417 in 2012.

2). Of those, 74% received less than a five percent raise in 2012 with 44% getting less than three percent and 18% getting no raise at all last year.

3). CIOs of hospital systems had the highest average base salary at $254,054 last year, and CIOs at critical access hospitals had the lowest at $125,573.

4). Title and education level were significant factors affecting CIO salaries. CIOs who also were “senior vice presidents” or “executive vice presidents” earned an average base salary of $310,326, while CIOs with medical degrees punched in at $306,000.

5). The top factor cited by CIOs as influencing an increase in base salary was “job performance as rated by my superior.”

6). Like all c-suite executives, healthcare CIOs are torn between dealing with the current challenges and preparing for the future challenges.

7). Their three biggest near-term challenges are: Navigating the regulatory environment, including meeting the government’s “meaningful use” criteria to obtain IT incentive payments; continuing foundational groundwork like updating and optimizing existing IT systems, billing compliance and securing personal health information; and implementing applications to cope with things like accountable care, population health and care coordination.

8). Their three biggest long-term challenges are: Creating an information-driven health system using advanced analytics; building an IT platform for expanded scope of services; and building a platform for risk-based contracts with payers.

9). Five factors will determine whether healthcare CIOs will succeed in meeting both their near-term and long-term challenges: Adequate financial resources; technology supplier sustainability; organization oversight and support; adequate IT staffing; and scalability.

10). CIOs’ top IT priority in the next two years is achieving meaningful use followed closely by optimizing use of their current IT systems.

11). CIOs’ primary clinical IT focus is putting a fully operational EHR system in place with using clinical systems to measure quality a close second.

12). CIO’s primary financial IT focus is implementing ICD-10 with upgrading financial analytics systems a distant second. Nearly nine out of 10 say they are prepared for the conversion to ICD-10 on Oct. 1, 2014, with more than four out of 10 saying their organizations spent less than $1 million to switch over.

13). CIOs’ primary infrastructure IT focus is on systems that secure personal health information. Nearly one in five says they’ve had a security breach within the past 12 months.

14). CIOs consider lack of staffing resources as the most significant barrier to implementing IT systems. More than five out of 10 say they expect an increase in IT staff within the next 12 months.

15). Three out of four CIOs say they expect an increase in their IT operating budget in the coming year. Of those who expect a decrease, nearly half attribute the cut to an overall budget decrease.

16). A majority of CIOs say their healthcare organizations participate in a health information exchanges, though 25% say their organizations have no plans to join an HIE.

17). Only six out of 10 CIOs are members of their organization’s executive committee.

18). Nearly eight of out of 10 healthcare CEOs say they anticipate an increase in technology investments in the next 12 months yet more than six out of 10 say they are concerned about the availability of the skills their organizations have to effectively capitalize on that technology investment.

19). Clinical informatics and systems and data integration are the top two skills most needed to achieve a provider organization’s healthcare IT priorities.

20). By comparison, at health plans, the top two skills most needed to achieve their healthcare IT priorities are systems and data integration and data statistics and analytics.

So, as it turns out, maybe many of you working in healthcare do, in fact, have a lot in common with healthcare CIOs. You’re all facing growing demands in a changing economic environment with limited resources and no guarantee of personal financial reward. If anything, you now have some good icebreakers the next time you want to start a conversation with a healthcare CIO.

What’s your best opening line when you want to talk to your CIO? Let me know, and I’ll share with your peers.

Thanks for reading.

David Burdaa veteran healthcare business and policy journalistis editorial director of David BurdaBetter Thinking for Better Health.