3 ways CEOs can leverage CIOs to drive healthcare innovation

Chief executive officers in healthcare and other industries are turning their attention more closely toward technology and how it can improve their businesses; one of the keys to success is the chief information officer.

Whether an investment in better technology can be a boon for an organization--including those in the healthcare industry--depends upon two factors, Mike Pearl, principal at PwC, writes at the Wall Street Journal: an organization's ability to "reshape the role of the CIO" and a CIO's ability to change both how they build and deliver capabilities to the organization.

Those are important factors, especially for hospital executives. The role of CIO in the healthcare space in continually growing and evolving as the use of technology changes the ways care is delivered.

Pearl outlines three ways that CEOs can leverage the CIO position to better drive innovation and technology.

  • Breaking out of the back office: CIOs may have a C-suite title, but that doesn't matter if they don't form relationships with fellow C-suite and business unit leaders, according to Pearl. "To regain influence and restore sanity, CIOs need to embed their teams throughout the lines of the business," he says. They should help orchestrate IT services and make sure they align with what the business--or hospital--needs to reach its goals.
  • Amending the approach to delivery IT: Pearl says tech is like suit shopping, it needs to be tailored and altered to be the perfect fit. Organizations need to move from a plan-build-run model to one that where IT and business together design and define needs (ideate phase), then select prebuilt components to create the tech (assemble phase) and finally move into the consume phase.
  • Creating a flexible architecture: Flexibility of systems is key in a healthcare setting, as technology is constantly changing the way the systems interact and work. Pearl says inflexible applications should be replaced with a "capability centric set of services--developed with a multi-layered integration fabric." In addition, an integration fabric will be able to pull data from multiple sources and store it in its native form.

"The CIOs I know want more than to use technology to keep the lights on," Pearl writes. "They want to make a meaningful impact, inside and outside of the enterprise. Remaking IT for the digital age will free CIOs from maintaining inflexible systems so they can focus on innovation."

However, as University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers CIO Sue Schade has pointed out, changes in the healthcare industry, especially for those in the CIO position, take time.

To learn more:
- read the WSJ post