Healthcare CIO job often is so much more than managing IT

Healthcare CIOs pretty much manage IT operations for their organizations, right? Well, it's not so simple anymore.

Some, like Orlando (Fla.) Health vice president and CIO Rick Schooler, also oversee supply-chain management and group purchasing. At Baylor Health Care System in Dallas, senior VP and CIO David Muntz is in charge of such things as biomedical engineering, imaging equipment management and physician telephone support. Gene Shaw, at Yuma (Ariz.) Regional Medical Center, now carries the title of VP of value transformation and CIO since he has responsibility for quality, process redesign, performance improvement, peer review and patient safety.

"The challenge of dealing with all the elements of the job at once includes handling the strange combination of minutiae involved, such as, 'I've got a broken PC,' and the big-big-picture issues, like being able to answer the question of where healthcare reform is going," Muntz tells Healthcare Informatics. "And it requires an ability to deal with very technical people and represent their interests to the board level; and then to reverse that and be able to explain to very technical people the broad, strategic issues involved," he says about his expansive role.

Much of the evolution of the CIO job has to do with organizational culture and an individual's background. At Yuma, Shaw is comfortable overseeing elements of clinical quality because he is a registered nurse. Orlando Health drew upon Schooler's previous experience as well. "My fellow execs knew my background. In fact, before I had come into healthcare in 1991, I had managed areas outside as well as within IT. And then some key people left, and we did some realignment, and it just made sense to put those areas under me," Schooler says.

For more about the brave new world of the CIO:
- check out this Healthcare Informatics feature