Why public communication skills are a must for hospital CIOs

The ability to effectively communicate with co-workers, no doubt, is one of the most important skills a hospital CIO can possess. Just as important, however, could be a CIO's ability to communicate with colleagues outside of the workplace, particularly when giving presentations, according to Will Weider, CIO at Ministry Health Care, a 15-hospital system with facilities in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Weider, in a recent post on his Candid CIO blog, says that all CIOs, to be truly good at their job, must be able stand up in front of a room full of people and present information in both an "effective and engaging" manner.

"A mediocre strategy well articulated will produce greater results than an excellent strategy that is not understood by those that must execute and support it," he says. "No matter how good one gets at this, an engaging presentation requires time to craft and practice to deliver well. I still fall on my face if I do not have enough preparation time."

One key to improving presentation effectiveness, according to Weider, is reducing marketing-speak and canned messages, something at which the late Steve Jobs excelled, he says.

"Most folks in the corporate world start their presentations using a PowerPoint template created by the marketing department; and, most of those templates are awful," he says. "When Steve Jobs introduced a new product, did his slides have the top one-third reserved for a giant title? Be brave, dump your corporate PowerPoint template."

Recent comments at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's annual conference by Rich Miller, vice president of talent strategies & information technology at healthcare executive search firm B.E. Smith, echoed some of Weider's sentiments.

"Yes, it's important for [CIOs] to communicate with the IT team that's there, but they've got to be outside of that immediately," he said. "They've got to understand where the issues are and how to attack that."

Newly named College of Healthcare Information Management Executives CEO and current CEO of Fort Collins, Colo.-based Colorado Health Medical Group Russell Branzell, meanwhile, recently told FierceHealthIT that the role of the hospital CIO has evolved from being strictly about technology implementation. Today's CIO, he said, is charged with providing a vision and managing relationships, both of which require immaculate communications skills.

"The number one skill is relationship management," he said.

To learn more:
- read Weider's post

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