7 Ways Healthcare CIOs Can Increase Their Impact

By John Lynch, MBA | Chief Executive Officer | September 3, 2019

In our modern, click-of-a-button world, the healthcare industry relies on technology to process data, maintain accurate records, and facilitate communication across the entire treatment team.

That is why healthcare facilities must have a capable Chief Information Officer (CIO) or IT Director at the helm.

Healthcare CIOs must be able to navigate the fast-paced, challenging world of healthcare while also showing his or her team the best path to take. A great healthcare CIO uses his or her expertise to help a facility accomplish goals, remain in constant communication, stay ahead of the curve of public health threats, and save lives.

If your healthcare facility is looking for a talented CIO to pave the way to success, keep an eye out for these hallmarks of the ideal healthcare CIO candidate.

Predicting Industry Trends

Great healthcare CIOs are visionaries, thought leaders, and problem solvers. Ultimately, IT solutions are a tool to be used to improve the day-to-day operations of a facility. Thankfully, technology has become so limitless that the CIO’s toolbox is full of potential solutions to any number of problems.

The trick is picking the right option in times of tension and uncertainty.

To ensure that the path ahead is paved smoothly for advancing healthcare, talented CIOs look to the future to find tech-savvy solutions to current or anticipated problems. The healthcare industry is constantly evolving, which means CIOs need to be able to call upon and implement the right tools that will support a healthcare facility now and into the future.

Ear to the Floor

In order to stay sharp in our constantly-changing world of healthcare and technology, it is critical that healthcare CIOs stay current on new trends and changes within the industry.

The best way to do so is to embrace the world of healthcare as a community. Healthcare professionals are passionate about knowledge and sharing new information with colleagues. However, such valuable information can often go unnoticed if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by emails and memos to the point where you begin simply tuning them out.

While subscribing to every email newsletter you hear of is counterproductive, it is also important to stay abreast of new changes in the healthcare and IT space in order to take advantage of opportunities and solutions that can advance your healthcare facility.

A great healthcare CIO knows how to find the balance and remains an active member of the ongoing conversation.

Make An Impact

While there is a natural inclination to resist change, a healthcare CIO’s job is to embrace change and implement IT solutions that will improve the functionality of a healthcare facility.

Every healthcare provider has goals for their patients and their community. Whether the objective is to increase vaccination rates, decrease the prevalence of the flu virus, or to reduce the rate of premature births, healthcare CIOs must be a part of accomplishing these goals.

On the surface, many goals of a healthcare facility can appear strictly medical. However, by implementing the right IT solutions, healthcare CIOs can dramatically improve providers’ communication with clients, strengthen trust and rapport between patients and nurses, disseminate valuable education materials, and increase the effectiveness of preventative care initiatives.

Throughout my time in the healthcare industry, I have seen healthcare facilities and their patients enjoy the most success when CIOs are active participants in goal planning and strategy execution.

As such, great CIOs are efficient project managers. By overseeing the subtasks and timelines of projects, CIOs can facilitate the successful execution of new tactics that have the power to make a real difference in the lives of patients and medical professionals.

Holistic Thinking

The beauty of the CIO’s job is that he or she is in the position to transform tools that are notoriously unhuman – those of technology – into something remarkably human. Therefore, a great CIO uses technology to meet the needs of each department within the healthcare facility – not just their own.

Indeed, healthcare CIOs have the opportunity to assess, diagnose, and treat problems within the organization. In this way, CIOs can advance healthcare to new heights of excellence.

Of course, in order for a great healthcare CIO to make an impact on a healthcare facility, the entire team must be on board – from the C-suite to the healthcare professionals who interact with individual patients. Oftentimes this is the most challenging aspect of the job and is the area where most CIOs feel they have room for growth.

How to Increase Your Impact as a Healthcare CIO

Technology is a divisive industry that can either make people feel uncomfortable and distanced from others or excite people and make them feel connected to the people and information they care about. In healthcare, CIOs have the opportunity to inspire the latter in their staff and in the patients they serve.

To do so requires a great deal of skill and a dedication to constant improvement. In serving as the CIO for numerous healthcare facilities over the past 19 years, I have been fortunate enough to learn from some of the best executives in the industry while testing out what works to hone my own skills as an interim IT executive.

Here are the habits the best CIOs build to improve the value they offer their facilities and to establish strong tech solutions that will set their facilities up for success into the future:

1. Networking with other CIOs. Meeting and collaborating with other CIOs inside and out of the healthcare industry gives you the opportunity to absorb new ideas and learn about different practices. Knowledge is power and your colleagues are the best source of that knowledge.

2. Staying current on government regulations. The healthcare industry and the tech that supports it are at the beck and call of government regulations. Staying abreast of developing policy trends and newly implemented changes can ensure your facility is ready when the deadline to comply arrives.

• To stay current on the latest government healthcare policies, we recommend subscribing to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services listserv here.

3. Reading the news. This one may sound simple, but it is not uncommon for professionals to avoid reading news about their particular industry simply for the sake of diversifying their reading. However, the media has a massive amount of influence on the healthcare industry and staying current on the latest news related to healthcare and IT can give you a heads up to potential policy changes.

• Keep tabs on what’s new in healthcare and IT by subscribing to Becker’s Hospital Review and Modern Healthcare.

4. Build strong relationships with your leadership staff. The leadership team at any healthcare facility – such as the C-suite or a board of directors – is responsible for setting the goals and objectives of a facility. By nurturing your relationships with those individuals and building a reputation for being an open communicator, you can prevent problems before they grow and propose solutions to the team’s biggest pain points.

5. Get to know your physicians. While the leadership team takes a high-level view of the facility as a whole, physicians and nurses have their boots on the ground and deal with issues every day – issues that your IT solutions can solve. Ensure there are open lines of communication with these important team members and make it clear that their needs and ideas are important to you.

6. Solve pain points quickly. Once you have identified the problems within the facility, get to work solving them as quickly as possible. While big problems may require more time to solve, smaller issues that can be easily solved should be addressed immediately. If you can make someone else’s job easier, do so while brainstorming to solve bigger challenges.

7. Don’t forget about your IT staff. As a healthcare CIO, you are the one responsible for making the big decisions in IT that can help your facility thrive. However, your IT staff members are the ones executing your ideas. Listen to their concerns, consider their input and ideas, and foster a culture of team collaboration to maximize the value of the brilliant minds working in your department.

Healthcare CIOs are in a unique position to support the entire facility through one department. Everything in healthcare requires technology these days and the responsibility falls to CIOs to ensure the best systems are in place to support those who save lives.

Whether you need interim CIO support or consulting, if your IT department is struggling to find a solid footing in the ever-changing world of healthcare policies, regulation, and workflows, reach out to us.

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