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A strange thing was revealed over the last 90 days of interviews at This Week in Health IT. The CIOs role and responsibility has expanded and changed.

- Three CIOs have taken on functions that used to be in the COO or CAO function.

- Four CIOs have taken on Digital and Innovation titles.

- One CIO has taken on a service line with revenue and P&L responsibility.

Why is this happening and why does it make sense is the topic for Today's - Today in Health IT podcast. Here's my quick take on this.

This makes total sense to me. No one has as wide or deep a view of healthcare as the CIO. They are at the data and information level of it all. They have to understand clinical workflows, financial workflows, patient experience and the like. They also have to run a significant operation where they negotiate large contracts, manage teams and large projects. If you handle these things well, you are of course a great choice to take on additional responsiblities.

The sky is the limit for good CIOs and we are seeing that take shape today.

Transcript

This transcription is provided by artificial intelligence. We believe in technology but understand that even the smartest robots can sometimes get speech recognition wrong.

 Today in Health it, the story is the CIO role and how it is changing. My name is Bill Russell. I'm a former CIO for a 16 hospital system and creator of this week in Health IT a channel dedicated to keeping Health IT staff current and engaged. No sponsor for today's show. So I'm going to take this 30 seconds and ask you for a favor.

Pick your favorite episode of Today in Health. it, we've done almost 40 of 'em at this point, and send it along to a peer or, . People in your department and tell them you wanna know their thoughts on the show. My goal isn't for everyone to agree with me far from it, but it is to get the conversation started.

So see if it doesn't start an interesting conversation. If you think of it, send me a note and let me know how it goes. Okay? Onto today's story, the CIO role is . Changing and I think it has changed forever as a result of covid. That's my declaration. Here are my facts. In the interviews of CIOs I've done over the last 90 days, here's what we have.

William Walders, CIO, for Health First. William is, has now taken on a bunch of responsibilities that would've normally fallen under the COO at their health system for various reasons. You could listen to the full interview on this week in health. It. To hear the story of that. BJ Moore, who I interviewed just this afternoon, is the CIO for Providence, has also taken on some operation functions of facilities and real estate as well.

Chad Brizendine has taken on service lines at St. Luke's University Health Network in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. There's a whole bunch of people that have taken on CDO type. Titles. Craig Richards v uh, has taken on the chief digital officer role as well as Tressa Springman and Tom Barnett, who's ACIO down in Memphis with Baptist, Jason Joseph, with Spectrum Health, has added ACDO role and, and there's just an awful lot of activity here of CI CIOs taking on these roles.

Why do I think that is? I'm gonna share with you, there's an article, Becker's article, what to Expect from Health System. IT Teams in 2021. It's a really good article. There's two quotes that I'm gonna pull out from this. The first is from Ray Inger, md, CIO, for Hospital Sisters Health System in Springfield, Illinois.

He says, in many ways we have more and more responsibilities to bifurcate in how we work. On one hand, I have a lot of responsibility for managing and mentoring staff that is highly technical and very skilled in the that profession. At the same time. I need to understand more and more about healthcare itself, how it's delivered, the workflows and how the tools we are developing are going to much more closely touch not only the providers, but the patients themselves.

He goes on, he said the other side of the bifurcated role is that of strategy. Clearly we have always had responsibility for it strategy, but what you are seeing is the. Uh, information and or the digital strategy that is becoming more prevalent in a lot of organizations is a place where many CIOs may need to get involved more upstream with the rest of the leadership of the organization to solve problems with our technology, as well as offer the technology that can really make a difference and maybe even help the organization move forward.

The whole concept of . Ongoing growth in consumer digitalization and consumer engagement in their health really means that we do on a day-to-Day basis is going to be reaching all the way into the hands of every patient we care for. In many ways, it will also reach into the hands of individuals. In our communities who aren't necessarily patients today.

I think that says it really well. I'm gonna go on and give you one more quote from this, and then I'll give you the, so what, why does this matter? What are we looking at? Uh, BJ Moore, executive vice President, CIO for Providence, has this to say in the article at Providence, we are seeing firsthand the expansion of the CIO role and the elevated value of the health system to the health system.

I now report to our CEO Rod Hockman, md, and my role has expanded to include our real estate and operations functions. This is in recognition of the future of a modern digital workforce and the evolution of our facilities in the future of modern digitally enabled care delivery. So now, what's the so what on this?

I think this has changed. And why has it changed? I think Covid pushed us into this problem solving mode and people recognized that we were ready for these challenges and that our skills crossed a lot of different barriers. And the reason for that is, and I've been saying this for years, CIOs see more of the organization than anyone else.

At least from an operation side, they have to understand supply chain. They have to understand, uh, workflow, clinical workflow, financial workflow. They have to understand the systems, the data, how it's stored, how it's moved, how it's utilized within the, the health system. There's almost no other role that I can think of that has to understand so many aspects of how things operate within a health system.

And that includes the financial aspect to the clinical aspect. I'm not saying they're clinical experts far from it. Except for the MDs. There's a lot of MD CIOs, and I think that's a recognition as well. But they have to understand clinical, they have to understand the workflow, they have to understand how doctors get paid, and all those things come together to help them solve problems at a different level and to inject the technology into it.

And so I think that is what's going on. I think the sky's really the limit for CIOs in healthcare. The fact that you touch everything in the health system. Uniquely positions you to move in a lot of different directions. So I think if I were coaching CIOs and I am coaching CIOs today, there there are, there's a path for ACIO to go to ACEO of a hospital.

There's a path for ACIO to go into administrative or operations roles, and there's obviously a path for CIOs. To go into the digital direction. So that is a, I think, an exciting thing. I think the so what is, let your mind wander, see what you're thinking, and see what really gets you excited and head in that direction.

I. Don't, just the rest of the industry is going in CIO to CDO role. Don't just take the digital and say, oh, I, I should have that and I must have that. Uh, understand what you bring to the table and what your strengths are and pursue that. That's all for today. If you know of someone that might benefit from our channel, please forward them a note.

They can subscribe on our website this week, health.com, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Apple, Google, overcast, Spotify, Stitcher, you get the picture. We're everywhere. We wanna thank our channel sponsors who are investing in our mission to develop the next generation of health IT leaders, VMware, Hillrom, Starbridge Advisors, McAfee and Aruba Networks.

Thanks for listening. That's all for now.

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