The Scottsdale Institute convened eight IT executives in Chicago for the 2017 SI CIO Fall Summit on Oct. 19-20, 2017. Leaders gathered to share strategies, concerns and insights as we move toward the “New World of Healthcare IT,” with specific focus on the exponential growth of digital healthcare, and its requirements for a new breed of CIO. Attendees represented large academic medical centers, multi-regional health systems, rural hospitals and clinics from across the nation.
CIO Fall Summit Participants: Kyle Johnson, system vice president and CIO, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems; Bryan Kissinger, vice president and CISO, Banner Health; Mark Lantzy, senior vice president and CIO, IU Health, and president, IU Health Plans; Ken Lawonn, senior vice president and CIO, Sharp HealthCare; Jonathan Manis, senior vice president and CIO, Sutter Health Information Services; Heather Nelson, interim vice president and CIO, University of Chicago Medical Center; Randy Thompson, M.D., CMIO and Interim CIO, Billings Clinic; Jim Veline, senior vice president and CIO, Avera Health
Organizer: Scottsdale Institute
Sponsor: Impact Advisors
Moderator: C-Suite Resources (Ralph Wakerly, president)
Participants were guided through a series of questions and topics, and were asked to weigh in on their views of the changing healthcare marketplace, including the integration of technology across the enterprise, measuring IT value, embedding transparency in governance, designing balance into these new IT models, and ultimately the impact on the CIO’s role in response to these pressures from our digital transformation.
Innovation and the Evolving Role of the Healthcare CIO
As society increasingly embraces technology—from smartphones and “apps” to Fitbits to Instagram and Facebook—consumers are placing new demands on healthcare, setting new expectations for how health systems will need to interact with patients on a personal digital level.
This digital transformation of healthcare is placing new demands on hospitals as they attempt to keep pace with digital retail leaders such as Apple and Amazon. The standards set by such technology leaders, and how they interact with their customers are rapidly becoming the new norm for healthcare.
That pressure to innovate is now challenging our CEOs and CIOs, who are being tasked to lead this digital transformation of healthcare. How can we as IT leaders become such agents for change, what skills do we need to develop, and how should we evolve and redefine the role of the CIO in this new age of digital healthcare?
Recognizing and articulating these challenges, our group of CIOs explored the new role of the CIO in detail—crafting it as the central theme of the Summit.
CIOs as Transformation Leaders
One of the first discussion points: Should CIOs be expected to serve as the leaders of transformational change for their health systems? If so, to be successful, CIOs will need to work differently with the C-Suite, engaging them in different ways.
As Randy Thompson, CMIO and Interim CIO, Billings Clinic, stated, “We (as CIOs) need to prepare our organizations for the future—if we don’t do it, no one else will.”
“Many organizations are struggling with the role of the CIO in the age of digital transformation,” said Jon Manis, senior vice president and CIO, Sutter Health Information Services, explaining, “CEOs are looking at the shift to digital consumerism and creating new roles like ‘chief transformation officer’ and ‘chief digital engagement officer.’ What this really represents is an opportunity for CIOs to step forward and lead. To serve and satisfy tomorrow’s healthcare customers, CIOs must help re-imagine and reinvent the current care delivery models.”
Underscoring the pressure from retail markets felt by CEOs, Manis added, “Innovators are being recruited from other industries with retail engagement skills not commonly found in healthcare. We have a patient focus—they have a customer focus. This represents a critically important leadership opportunity for the CIO—the shift to digital consumer engagement is the pivot we need to make.”
Often CIOs serve in a unique position—able to bridge technology and business—with that business acumen seen as a differentiator. Randy Thompson relayed the Gartner description of the evolution of the role of the CIO from a technology leader with business savvy, to a business leader with technology savvy. Business strategy coupled with clinical strategy—both enabled by IT—is likely to become our new paradigm.
Indeed, changing the perception of the CIO within the organization may be a key component of success. Historically, CIOs have not always been viewed on par with others in the C-suite. This is changing, and will need to continue to evolve.
Jon Manis noted, “Most provider organizations do not yet see the CIO as innovative or transformative. Traditionally, CIOs have managed the application and infrastructure support functions. But there is no executive more qualified or better positioned to merge technology and business operations. For those CIOs who recognize it, this is an opportunity to step forward and lead their organizations.”
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