A new seat at the C-suite: Chief Data Officer

Make room for yet another seat at the healthcare executive table. In addition to carving out spots for new positions like the chief population health officer and chief incentive officer, some hospitals and healthcare systems hire chief data officers (CDOs) to oversee data collection.

Although the position is relatively new to healthcare, it's one that industries such as banking, government and insurance embrace, according to InformationWeek. By 2015, 25 percent of large global organizations will appoint a CDO, predicted Gartner earlier this year.

Seattle Children's Hospital uses the role of the CDO to transform data into information so healthcare leaders can make better-informed decisions.The hospital has CDO Eugene Kolker work with a team to determine how the data can improve care across subspecialties and inpatient, outpatient, emergency and multiple other services, FierceHealthIT previously reported.

But the C-suite table is already a bit crowded. Why should a hospital add yet another member when another department or position, such as the chief information officer, can handle the responsibility? To make sure someone in leadership oversees all data initiatives, according to InformationWeek. A lack of centralized approach is expensive and weakens an organization's ability to compete.

As a member of the executive suite, the CDO acts as the C-suite sponsor and takes the lead in creating processes to formally manage data, wrote Larissa Moss, president of Method Focus Inc., and Sid Adelman, principal and founder of Sid Adelman and Associates, in a recent Forbes article.

"Until recently, managing data has been seen as an IT responsibility. That's now changing as more organizations realize that this is a business responsibility," they said.

Even the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services sees the value of the position. Last month CMS named Niall Brennan its first CDO to oversee the new Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics and lead improvements in data collection and dissemination to make the information more transparent.

Healthcare organizations that consider adding the position should seek someone who has strong communication skills, strategic thinking capabilities and a high-level understanding of technology, according to InformationWeek. And someone who can work well with the other members of the C-suite.                                            

To learn more:
- read the InformationWeek article
- here's the Forbes story