The Role of the CMIO in Healthcare

Tasked with leading the strategic positioning, implementation, and support of clinical systems, a Chief Medical Information / Informatics Officer (CMIO) is usually a practicing physician with a core understanding, if not formal training, in technology / informatics.

The CMIO must understand and translate physician needs while also translating the health system’s business and clinical initiatives as well as constraints. The CMIO must then communicate how the solutions, including CPOE and EMR, meet all of these needs. The CMIO is key to facilitating collaboration between IT and the clinical community and considered highly strategic to achieving the clinical objectives of the health system.

The CIO and CMIO work best as a close‐knit team. The CMIO is involved in all facets of the clinical implementations and best practices. The CIO is focused on budget, IT infrastructure, including securty and regulations. Both CIO and CMIO understand and work together toward meeting the ARRA HITECH Meaningful Use requirements. The CMIO may report to the CIO with a dotted line to the CMO or the reverse.

The CMIO will involve the medical staff in defining and creating tools that can be successfully implemented and used in a meaningful way. To facilitate this, the CMIO will create, develop, and consistently engage a core clinical informatics focused team. The purpose of this team is to help answer critically important questions during the design, content development, workflow, ease and speed of use as well as appropriateness of alerts for CPOE. The Clinical Informatics Team synthesizes broad information, which medical staff advisors will review, that ultimately will be broad scale presented to all interested physicians in the health system.

Achieving this core information requires well‐planned, regularly scheduled meetings with physician champions and clinical representatives in all key areas. The Clinical Informatics Team usually involves a range of disciplines: nurses, nurse informaticist(s), quality management, pharmacist, lab technician, IT and others who see the value and can make the time commitment. Working effectively, the CIO, CMIO, CMO and the Clinical Informatics Team will achieve consensus across the system through thoughtful communication that encourages involvement.

Role Requirements:

  • Board certified MD with a minimum of five years practicing medicine.
  • A proven track record of success implementing EHR initiatives in a healthcare system.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of evidence‐based medical principles and practices.
  • Strong interpersonal, communication and presentation skills.
  • Strong collaborative management style and proven success in change management, team building and decision‐making.
  • Advanced certification/degree in medical informatics is highly desirable.

Compensation: It’s more than money

(2010 CMIO Compensation Survey CMIO.net)*

The CMIO role is relatively new to healthcare. According to the 2010 CMIO.net Compensation Survey, nearly 70% of respondents have been employed in clinical IT for less than ten years. Most CMIOs have emerged within their existing health system, a trend that many believe is changing due to the growing importance of the CMIO role. 97% are high‐level strategists within their organization. 41% are involved in enterprise‐wide capital buying decisions – impacting the organization’s strategy.

IT Priorities (according to Survey)

  1. Reducing Medical Errors
  2. Delivering Clinical Knowledge to Physicians
  3. Implementing/Upgrading Clinical Information Systems

Business Priorities (according to Survey)

  1. Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE)
  2. Electronic Medical Record (EMR)
  3. Clinical Decision Support (CDS)

Unlike other C‐suite roles, CMIOs appear to have higher than usual job satisfaction. Survey showed 86 percent of respondents say they have no plans to change jobs this year. Approximately 48 percent of respondents report an annual salary of $200,000 or more.

While 10% stated an annual salary less than $100,000, they likely serve in a dual role of CMIO and practicing physician. As for bonuses, more than 56 percent of survey participants say they expect to receive a bonus this year. Often these bonuses are based on goal‐based incentives for implementation of IT projects.

And with marching orders this year most often focused on implementing EMRs and CPOE, it’s not surprising that about 66 percent of respondents expect clinical IT staffing to increase.

*For more in‐depth survey results about technology implementation plans in 2010 and beyond, go to www.cmio.net.

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