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The New Hiring Dynamic

May 21, 2014
by Tim Tolan
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Tim Tolan

For as long as I can remember, landing a new CIO role usually meant working in an organization led by a seasoned and experienced healthcare executive at the helm. It’s always been that way in healthcare. That may be changing, as the forecast is that fully two-thirds of hospital CEOs hired this year will have little to no healthcare experience, according to Black Book Rankings. This information was gathered in a survey they conducted last year from over 1,400 human resource officers and board members of healthcare organizations. It will likely have a major impact on the way CIOs and other hospital executives interview for a new role—or keep the one they have. Let’s face it: if you are banking solely on your years of leadership and HCIT experience, you may have to rethink the way you present yourself and your entire value equation.

The Affordable Care Act is forcing many healthcare executives to focus not only on the health of the population of patients they manage, but also at the overall fiscal health of the organization. These new CEOs will be more interested in how you can deliver information to help them understand how to drive higher margins and profitability, in addition to all of the clinical data management and systems your team manages. The new healthcare leaders are business people with banking and finance backgrounds hired by boards to increase revenues, fix balance sheets and reduce debt. In more dire circumstances the ideal CEO likely understands how to do a turnaround if the cash situation is at a critical level. Trying to pitch your reasons why they need to spend millions of dollars on a new clinical information system may not endear you to this new type of hospital CEO.

If you find yourself in a situation where a new non-healthcare CEO becomes your new CEO, or you are interviewing with a new non-healthcare CEO, you might consider a few suggestions:

Listen—Understand the drivers of this new leader and the things that are important for them be successful in their new role. This is a time to pause and listen to what their needs are and stay away from needs for your department—at least not during the honeymoon phase. The CEO's needs (and will) to drive the agenda, and you should step back and learn what’s important to him or her. Ask questions to make sure you completely understand the drivers.

Proved Value—This goes for current leaders or candidates interviewing for a new role. What information does this new leader need and in what format? How often and at what level of detail? In order for the new a CEO to be successful, he or she needs information, maybe in different formats and faster they you’ve ever delivered information before. Don’t assume you have everything the CEO needs from a data standpoint. He will likely have questions about the information you present, and make sure you offer to spend time helping them understand what may seem second nature to you.

Collaborate—This is the time to step up and make sure you are delivering what the new team needs. You should not be offended if some of its requests for information seem demanding, unique or “out-of-box.” The CEO was hired for a reason; he wants to be successful in his new endeavor and wants to surround himself with team players who are all rowing the same way.

Deliver—Once you make a commitment make sure you deliver. This seems like pretty basic advice but it’s worth repeating. Do what you say you are going to do. Do a little more than they expect. Do it a little sooner that you promise. This is the way you demonstrate your real value without ever saying a word. They will take notice. Promise.

The world of business is changing and so is the business of healthcare. Get ready.

Tim Tolan is senior partner of Sanford Rose Associates-Healthcare IT Practice. He can be reached at or (904) 875-4787. His blog can be found at