Federal mandates for healthcare technology have CIOs' plates groaning under the weight. But what is the key to these tech leaders' satisfaction with their jobs?
Forty-six percent of respondents in an April HealthsystemCIO.com survey said the answer is strong ties with the executive team. "It's all about relationships," one respondent said. It "allows you some freedom to drive strategy and influence decision-making," said another.
The authority to respond quickly to strategic needs plays into that. "If you are only responding reactively to the business decision, then you really do not need the skills of a seasoned CIO," one respondent said.
Being bogged down in day-to-day management rather than strategy can lead CIOs to consider greener pastures. While only 14 percent of CIOs said they're actively looking to change jobs, nearly half said they're open to hearing about other opportunities.
The evolving regulatory landscape means CIOs must be vigilant.
"As IT professionals, we're going to have to be watching that landscape quite aggressively to be able to respond to various demands. We need to be able to help our organizations react nimbly to change." FierceHealthIT Editorial Advisory Board member Indranil Ganguly, vice president and CIO at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold, N.J., has said.
Despite the demands and responsibility, however, budget restraints make attracting and retaining IT talent difficult in healthcare. CIO salaries averaged roughly $208,000 annually in 2012, though location, size of the organization and reporting structure are among the determining factors, according to the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). Those working at hospitals with fewer than 25 beds earned as little as $80,000 per year.
In InformationWeek's 2013 U.S. IT salary survey, health IT managers received a slight boost in average base pay to $112,000, compared with the industry average of $110,000, but receive fewer bonuses than managers in other sectors. The median annual base pay for healthcare staff, at $83,000, compares with $87,000 for other industry sectors. The lag in pay can be explained, in part, it said, by the number of nonprofit and government organizations in healthcare.
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