This Week Health

Today: The Healthcare CIOs Seat at the Table

What if I told you it wasn't a slam dunk in my mind that a Healthcare CIO should have a seat at the table. Well, today we discuss.

Transcript

All right. It's Friday and today in health, it we're going to talk about the healthcare CEO's seat at the table. My name is bill Russell. I'm a former CIO for a 16 hospital system and creator of this week health set of channels, dedicated to keeping health it staff current. And engaged. We were to thank our show sponsors who are investing in developing the next generation of health leaders, short test artist site.

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We believe in the generosity of our community. And we thank you in advance. All right, so I'm at it again. I posted a. A pole. , this week and the pole was. , should the. Let's see, should the CIO of a health system have a seat at the executive table. And I gave four options. Yes, technology's important. That's option number one.

Number two is no. Number three, is it depends on the person and number four is it depends on the organization. All right. So this is getting a lot of activity. , this is a hot topic. I knew it was going to be a hot topic. In fact, the reason I brought it up. Is because I keep hearing it over and over again.

And, ,

You know, it's, it's, it's an interesting question. And. It's also fascinating to me that at 240 votes, 239 votes. We are already at 82% saying yes, technology is important. The healthcare CIO should have a seat at the executive table. And I don't have that immediate reaction, to be honest with you.

82% is overwhelming. It's just overwhelming. I mean, the closest. , second place is it depends on the organization. Third places. It depends on the person and know is 1%. And let me just give you some of the responses we have, , , everything from. Let's see.

Here's what, I'm not sure how this question is even still questioned in healthcare, unless you're defining the CIO in an outdated way. So many issues with organizations can be mitigated. If you have the CIO who understands how to leverage technology while having another distinct role manage and execute the deliverables, the CIO role as a strategic role bridges the gap between enterprise strategy and real-world solutions, but always with the understanding that data.

Capture analysis and insights are that he necessary byproducts of those solutions and that those solutions are both operational and tactical. The CIO who has an understanding of the balance between tech and non-tech components of solutions and has a real world grasp on implementation, knows how to get these solutions in place in a way that is adoptable and sustainable. A CIO that is an adopter and translator between strategic goals and how technology fits into the ecosystem that serves those goals is absolutely essential.

And if this is still not understood, it's no surprise that organizations are having difficulty. Getting a handle on how to optimize their technologies. With their aims in a measurable way. That's how I personally feel the CIO should be defined in a modern healthcare system. And, you know, it's, it's.

Interesting to me because, well, I'm going to keep going. I'm going to read you a couple more and then I'm going to give you my take on this. , Mark Williams had this to say. Bell. Great question is always, I think the knee jerk reaction is to say yes because people believe that being at the executive table gives them a relevance in stature. It's my belief that technology is a critical component of a healthcare organization's ability to deliver value and care to its workforce and the population it serves.

My belief is that if the CIO CDO report to the CEO of the organization, then having a seat at the executive table is implied by the reporting structure. However, each organization has. The rhythm of business or how the CEO likes to interact with their executive team. I've seen some organizations where the CEO.

Likes to meet one-on-one and in small groups of senior leaders, to be able to drill down into the details, others. It's all about. The more the merrier. So I think in the end, it's a combination of the orange CEO style and the requirements of the CIO. Are they seasoned or relatively new to the role?

Okay. , Nicholas. Symansky says this. I think it's critical to have the CIO at the table without this aligning it goals with the overarching strategy is incredibly difficult. It also provides a platform for the rest of the leadership to hear, be aware of what it is doing. Rather than working in older magic, black box approach.

Lastly the most information. Lastly the most information the CIO or any other leader has this helps provide a wider picture and allows us to be an enabler. Since we are aware of the goals, struggles, mission. Just my 2 cents. And let me give you one more. This is a. I love it. Silly question. Why not?

, health system organization does not change. The importance of a CIO. If a CIO exists, they are part of the executive team to exclude them is moronic. I love those kinds of responses. He just make me laugh. And it's like, , you read those and you wonder, it's like, you know, how how's this person maintain their job and not been fired.

For writing emails in this. Cause you, you know, that the way you write social media generally is the way you write or the way you think or the way you talk. And, , I I'm actually, I read this and I sort of laugh, but I could easily have been offended by their tone. And, , , and approach, but regardless I will move on from that and just say, I don't think this is a slam dunk.

This is really interesting to me. First of all. We have to define the table, the executive table and the kinds of conversations and decisions that are going on there. So I was a part of a 16 hospital system. The executive table was essentially. The core group of leaders, it was the, , the CMO was a part of that. The, obviously the CEO was the CFO was the, , chief operating officer.

The I'm trying to think. There was a couple other people. , head of strategy was. And, , the president. There was, we had a present. We were large enough. You know, 70 a half billion you have that. Kind of thing. I, but I think there was only like six or seven. People on what was called the, , I think it was called the president's council.

And that president's council was the adviser. Now the kind of conversations they had, they could have conversations ranging from, , you know, How are we going to, going to educate people on the mission of the organization? It could be HR related. Things could be a technology related. Things could be, , , lines of business and consolidating lines of business. There was a lot of things that were very healthcare specific and not technology related.

And so when I was at, when I was told I was going to be on the executive council, but not the president's council, I was okay with that because I was lumped into a group and it was a much larger group, but that much larger group had the president of the medical group, had the presidents of all the hospitals were in that group.

, so there was a very large group that was part of the executive council. Now for the strategy, the three to five-year strategy that was set. Obviously they included the presidents of the hospital and they included the CIO. That was, that was just a given. And so I was a part of those strategy conversations. And the number of times I was in front of the president's council was pretty significant because there was any sort of conversation that had to do with technology. They would bring me in to inform that, but I didn't get a vote.

They didn't ask me to vote on the specific things that they were doing. , they just asked me to inform their decisions and to talk about. How technology would come together. So I didn't have a seat at the table. I didn't feel slighted. And I didn't feel like technology was underrepresented at the table because they constantly had me there. And I was a part of setting the overall strategy as part of the executive council.

Okay. So again, I think it depends on the organization. That's for me, that was my experience. Let me tell you about a CIO. I just interviewed about an hour ago. And that CIO told me that, , the, they had a chief innovation officer, chief digital officer, and a chief. , there was another one. That they had. And my question to you is if you have four people that are all peers that are at that innovation digital, , and by the way, the chief digital officer oversaw the, ,

The digital tools for patient access, digital tools for physician access and those kinds of things. The CIO was a traditional keep the data center running. , run them big projects around the ERP and the big software systems and that kind of stuff. So my question to you is who goes to the, goes to the table again? I think it depends on the organization. Let me give you the case for it depends on the person.

So I've had, if I, if I put 20 to 30 CEOs in the room, And I've seen this happen. They, if they bring the CIO in to the executive team and they start talking, they start talking speeds and feeds and they start talking tactics and those kinds of things. And they just do not understand how a strategy conversation happens at that executive level. And I think there are cases where the person is.

Is more pragmatic, more tactical. And they're what I call a CIO technician. Their hands on the keyboard. Again, it's not that you don't bring them into the room. It's not that you don't consult them. It's not that you don't need to understand. The challenges that they face and a good leader will understand those things, but those people will take away from the conversation in some cases, instead of adding to the conversation.

And so you don't want them in the, in the conversation we launch a new hospital and they're sitting there going, oh my gosh, we're going to have to buy 15 routers and routers are on back order. And that. Now they need to know those things, but that's not that conversation. And so I think in some cases it does depend on the person.

, You know, let me, let me give you the, the, , case for no, the case for no is, is really a hard one technology. Needs to be represented my case for no. Here is that the CEO, I would not hire a CEO for a health system anymore. At less. They understood technology at a deep level. Really understood.

Technology and had a point of view, had a thesis for how data technology, artificial intelligence, what is going to impact healthcare and impact the experience of the clinicians and impact that the experience of the patients. I think the day of a CEO, not being able to speak to those things is gone.

And that's what they need to be. And so I, there, their case could be made for no. If you have that kind of CEO. That they don't really need that kind of support. I think the other case is they have a very strong, tight relationship with a consulting firm that is offering these strategic. Viewpoint on the technology. I think there could be a case to be made to say, no, they just should not be there.

, but again, I think they're consulted on strategy. I think they're, they're a part of setting the multi-year strategy. I think the leaders need to understand the restraints. , the I'm sorry, now. Restraints constraints. That are on the it organization. For instance, if we can't get routers for a year and a half, they need to understand that building a building right now and not having routers to put in it. You can't, you can't there's very little, you can do so they need to understand those things, but does the person need to be at the table?

Maybe? No. Let me give you the case for yes. I know a lot of CEOs that are strategists. They are futurists. They are, , technologists. They truly understand, but they can also speak strategically about healthcare. If the CIO does not understand how a physician gets paid. If they do not understand how the health system makes money and what areas the health system makes money. If they can't speak strategically to the finances of the health system.

Then they shouldn't be at the table. But if they can do those things, and I do know CEO's, that can do those things. I believe they can be at the table. And they might want to be at the table. I would not want to be at the table. And let me tell you, the other reason I don't want to be at the table is it's a lot of time.

To be at that table. It's a lot of time. It's a lot of responsibility. You go to those tables. And a lot of times you have takeaways and you have things that you're given and you have to go back and research. You have to mobilize resources for, and those kinds of things. And it represents a lot of work. And I think the CIO has a ton of work to do already.

They used to be very focused on that work and as well as moving the innovation and advancement of digital technologies forward as well, I think, I think the role is huge already. , so I personally wouldn't ask to be at that level. , if they asked me to be at that level, I would serve at that level. And I believe I could offer value at that level. , but I would not demand it if that's, , what was going on at that health system anyway.

That's the post for this week, as you know, Fridays are my days to sort of, , talk about. , topics that are on the top of my mind. And that's one of the ones that's there. So anyway, that's all for today. Hope you have a great weekend. If you know of someone that might benefit from our channel for them to note, this really does help us, let them know they can subscribe on our website or wherever they listen to podcasts.

Maybe you start listening to it together and having a conversation. Maybe you can have a conversation with them about should the CIO have a seat at the table? Bill doesn't think he would want, but here's why I would want. Anyway. We want to thank our channel sponsors who are investing in our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders, short tests, artist, site, 📍 parlance, and service. Now check them out at this week. health.com/today.

Thanks for listening. That's all for now.

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