Hospital CIOs: Are you paid what you're worth?

The role of the hospital CIO has grown tremendously over the past two decades--and has undergone dramatic change since 2009.

Four years ago, CIO responsibilities were sent into overdrive with the passage of the Healthcare Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. Hospitals and other eligible professionals suddenly had to install electronic health record systems to meet specific standards for Meaningful Use or risk paying a financial price.

Despite such an increase in workload, CIOs, on average, have reaped small financial rewards, at least according to the recently published survey by a healthcare recruiting firm. Compensation for most responding CIOs increased less than 10 percent over the past four years. And, according to a survey published earlier this year by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, most CIOs got raises of 3 percent or less last year.

My question is: "Why?"

Could it be because they actually like their jobs? According to the survey's authors, compensation was not a big concern. In fact, close to 54 percent called their compensation "good" and "in line with expectations."

Or maybe it's because they don't have time to worry about their paychecks. Although an average annual salary of $286,000 is nothing to sneeze at, CIO stress levels clearly have skyrocketed since 2009. In addition to worries about Meaningful Use timelines, the looming move from ICD-9 to ICD-10 coding has become just as big if not a bigger headache. A recent analysis by the American Health Information Management Association found that hospital ICD-10 implementation efforts to be either non-existent or still in their infancy.

On top of that, many hospitals have had to put IT projects on hold due to staff shortages due to a lack of adequate talent. A recent survey also found that 38 percent of responding healthcare providers reported issues retaining top talent that they do find. Such concerns mirror the new survey's findings, as most CIOs listed "lack of qualified resources" as their greatest frustration.

And I haven't even mentioned privacy concerns.

According to the survey, 91 percent of respondents expect the complexity of their role to increase even more over the next five years, with more than half saying it will increase "significantly."

CIOs probably deserve better than increasing to-do lists without commensurate pay increases, but I want to hear from all you CIOs out there. Do you agree with the findings of this survey? Are the current financial rewards really worth the work put in? Or are there greater rewards than you take-home pay?  - Dan @FierceHealthIT

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