Information technology's impact on hospital C-suite growth

The C-suite is growing at healthcare provider organizations as technology requires the creation of new leadership positions--from chief technology officer to chief information security officers.

When the position of chief information officer was first created in the healthcare industry, it was a blend of all the different IT roles that now exist, says John Halamka, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

"Today, information is what drives healthcare. ... Because of the importance of this information technology activity in healthcare, you're spreading the workload over four major leaders," Halamka tells Becker's CIO and Health IT Review.

In addition to the position of chief medical information officer, one of the newest in the industry, the role of the chief nursing information officer is rising in importance, Mac McMillan, CEO of CynergisTek and current chair of the HIMSS Privacy & Security Policy Task Force, tells Becker's.

Nurses tend to be the best CIOs he's worked with, knowing hospital operations better than any other employee, he says.

However, there is a difference between the leadership and a smaller hospital compared to large health systems, Pamela Dixon, managing partner at SSi-Search, says. Smaller organizations may have someone who can take on multiple roles, while larger ones can afford to hire multiple people all with different, specific skills.

The leadership roles in health IT will continue to evolve as technology changes how hospitals are run, and as security efforts and collection of data rise in importance. The role of chief data officer is another one ripe to grow in healthcare.

At Seattle Children's, Seattle Children's Hospital CDO Eugene Kolker told Healthcare IT News that the hospital is using the role to try to "leverage data as a strategic institutional asset.

"It's about how to transform data into information, how to transform information into better-informed decisions," he said.

In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently brought on its first CDO.

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