Women in senior IT roles earn more than men and 10 other key trends from the CHIME salary survey

Female executive leading meeting
CIOs are playing an increasingly critical role in healthcare leadership, according to the CHIME salary survey. (Getty/Sam Edwards)

Contrary to trends in other sectors, women in healthcare IT executive positions earned about $30,000 more than their male counterparts in 2018, according to a survey of members from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME).

On average, women in healthcare chief information officer positions and other senior IT positions made $257,340 while men averaged $228,217, according to CHIME. Women represented about 27% survey respondents, which is relatively comparable to the gender breakdown of CHIME’s domestic membership, the organization said.

HIMSS Compensation Survey released in March 2018 found that women and minorities working in health IT make 28% less than their white male colleagues.

That survey, which looked at all digital health professionals and not just executives, found the average salary to be just shy $110,000. On average, men made more than $123,000 annually, while the average annual salary for women was just over $100,000, the HIMSS survey found.

According to the CHIME survey (PDF), CIOs and other healthcare IT executives made on average a base salary of $235,806 in 2018, up about 12% from the average base salary of $208,417 that CIOs reported in a similar survey in 2012.

“In many organizations, the CIO is a strategic partner who works across the healthcare system to improve health and care,” D. Sheree McFarland, a member of the CHIME Board of Trustees and Division CIO of the West Florida Division of HCA Healthcare, said in a statement. "We are valued for our leadership skills and our ability to collaborate with everyone, from the CEO to clinicians to the finance department."

McFarland added, "As a member of Women of CHIME, it is rewarding to see that gender is not a barrier to equitable pay and that both our women and men members are recognized for their contributions.”

RELATED: Survey: Female minorities working in health IT make 28% less than their white male colleagues

CHIME conducted the survey in late 2018, asking U.S-based members of the organization a range of questions including demographics, job structure, organization type, base salary and benefits, job satisfaction and more. A total of 266 CHIME members completed the survey, which represents about 11% of CHIME’s domestic membership. The organization has approximately 2,300 members in the U.S. and more than 2,900 overall.

Much has changed in the world of healthcare IT between 2012 when the last CIO survey was conducted, and now. CIOs are playing an increasingly critical role in healthcare leadership, according to the survey.

"The technologies they use to enhance health and care have evolved at lightning speed, offering more and sometimes more complex solutions. The challenges CIOs face have grown exponentially as well, as their organizations fend off increasingly sophisticated cyber threats and try to survive in a highly regulated and complex industry," the survey report said.

Overall, the 2018 survey showed an uptick in average base salaries, with most respondents satisfied or very satisfied with their total compensation and current job.

The majority of CIOs received a salary increase between 0-3% and another 18% stated that they did not receive an increase in base salary from the previous year. This was similar to what CIOs reported in 2012 when 44% reported an increase of less than 3% and 18% had no increase.

Other members noted sizable gains between 2017 and 2018. Some 19% saw an increase between 3% to 5%. Eleven percent posted salary increases between 5% to 10%. About a dozen CIOs reported their salaries jumped 10% to even more than 15%.

According to the survey, about half of CIOs cited job performance as rated by a superior as the biggest factor behind base salary changes. Other factors included achieving predetermined goals, cost of living adjustments and an increase in job responsibility.

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Almost two-thirds of CIOs said that they were very satisfied or satisfied with their current jobs. Those who reported to be very satisfied with their total compensation had an average salary of $302,731 while those who said they were very unsatisfied had an average salary of $168,857.

For purposes of the survey, base salary was defined as what respondents are paid on an annual basis, before deductions for taxes, health and other types of insurance, other employment-related deductions and retirement fund contributions. Base salary also excludes any form of bonus payments received, which often represents a significant component of executive compensation.

Here are 10 key trends from the CHIME survey:

  • Higher levels of education generally corresponded with higher pay. Some 6% of respondents reported having medical degrees and earned about 60% more than those with master’s degrees. Having a doctorate did not necessarily translate into higher pay, though. The 3% who reported earning doctorates had an average base salary of $16,000 lower than those with a master's degree.
  • Base salary increased as the number of beds in the respondent’s facility rose. Those who were at a facility with 1-25 beds reported an average salary of $136,183 while those at facilities with 400-699 beds had average salaries of $299,302.
  • Salaries vary by hospital type. Among those CIOs who reported working at a hospital or acute care facility, those who reported their hospital type as “children’s hospital” had the highest average salary at $309,028, 24% higher than other salaries on average. Academic medical centers came in next at $287,385.
  • Salaries also vary greatly by type of healthcare organization. Those who reported their organization as an integrated delivery network had the highest average salary at $322,810. Those working in a comprehensive cancer center had the lowest average salary at $161,000.
  • Both longevity and novelty appear to pay off. CIOs with more than 15 years in their current position and those who were in their position less than a year had the highest salaries compared to those who have held the same position from five to 15 years.
  • The survey found wide variation in base salary by region. Respondents in the Pacific region, which includes Washington, Oregon, and California, made about 11% more in base salary than the national average. Those in the Rocky Mountain region of Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming reported base salaries that were 20% below the average. The Midwest and Southwest regions came in slightly above average and the Northeast and Southeast slightly below.
  • Workload is increasing. Almost half of the respondents experienced heavier workloads in 2018 compared with 2017. When asked if they felt they were working more hours per week than they did in 2017, only 18% said no; 33% said they were working about the same number of hours as they did in 2017.
  • 70% of CIOs receive bonus payments. Many respondents stated that bonuses are most often based on a percentage of their yearly salary and/or a percentage of their salary based on performance metrics of both the facility and employee. These percentages ranged anywhere from 5% to 30% of the employee’s salary. Other benefits include paid time off and health benefits, with 95% receiving these benefits. Some 81% received retirement benefits or a pension as well as a life insurance policy; 63% were eligible for education benefits or reimbursement, and 6% received stock options.
  • High pay did not necessarily equal high job satisfaction. Those who said they were very satisfied had the highest reported average salary of $269,310 while those who were very unsatisfied had the second highest salary at $238,500.
  • Many CIOs looking at other opportunities. Despite overall satisfaction in compensation and jobs, 39% of CIOs said that they were considering new opportunities as they arise. Most cited a salary increase as an incentive to stay in their current positions, followed by organizational stability, organizational prioritizing of IT, increased responsibilities and a better work/life balance.