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CIOs report on one of their busiest years

Healthcare CIOs have their hands full with meaningful-use missions and other priorities. But their pockets are fuller, too, with a growing compensation and healthy bonuses.

O By Michael E. Hilts

ne could say that healthcare chief informa- tion offi cers are in their heyday. In fact, times might not get much better, or busier, than they are now or will be for the next few

years. CIOs are at the heavy-lifting end of healthcare re- form and HITECH, and the CIO’s leadership job has never been more vital or more needed. Such was the backdrop as Health Management Technology and its project partner, execu- tive search fi rm CES Partners Ltd., conducted a healthcare CIO survey of 2011.

Over the past 30-plus years of publication history, Health Management Technology has reported frequently on the state of the CIO role in healthcare – even before many hospitals had established formal information technology departments, much less assigned a director or vice president title to lead the tech troops. The early HMT surveys reported much on the evolution of the IT staff size and structure, as well as CIO growth in their roles, including that gradual rise to join other C-level executives at the senior table. This special report continues the

Mike Hilts is a senior practice leader at CES Partners, a healthcare executive search fi rm headquartered in Chicago (

tradition of benchmarking the healthcare CIO role, reporting on many of the same measures and a few new ones. What the CIOs said, in short, is that their hands are full – with plenty of priorities in addition to their meaningful-use mission – but their pockets are fuller, too, with a growing compensation and healthy bonuses. More of them report to the corner offi ce. They’re spending more money and leading larger staffs. They have signifi cant experience that’s high in demand, and more than half are trying to fi gure out where their next career move should take them. But before we dig into the numbers, here’s a profi le of the leaders who volunteered the data for this report.

Voice of experience

As in past years, our 2011 healthcare CIO survey focuses very tightly on the top information technology executive in hospitals and health systems with acute-care hospitals. That means that most participants, though not all, have titles that include chief information offi cer. Regardless of title, the survey participants are a very expe-

6 September 2011

rienced lot. They have averaged 22 years serving in healthcare organizations, seven years in their current IT leadership post and more than 11 years in CIO posts during their careers. The organizations they work in are a close representation of the U.S. hospital landscape, matching closely to recent statistical profi les of the American Hospital Association. Our survey respondents represent hospitals in 36 states, with 52 percent reporting on behalf of single hospitals and 48 percent representing multi- hospital systems.

It is what you know

Sure, street wisdom says who you know counts more than what you know in getting the job. Yet, once you’re in the hot seat of the CIO job, what you know becomes paramount. Indeed, because healthcare organizations are more frequently preferring or requiring that their senior executives hold advanced degrees, we added a couple new questions to our 2011 survey. We asked CIOs to report both on the education and training they have, and what they feel CIOs should have. In general, healthcare CIOs are coming to the job with a good set of credentials in place, and they continue to tack on extra initials as they go. While all the reporting CIOs have bachelor’s degrees and most with some concentrations in math, engineering or infor- mation systems, half of our CIO respondents (51 percent) indicate they have also earned at least one master’s degree. A stronger majority (57 percent) say that today’s CIO should have post-graduate degrees. The recommendations vary as to what master’s-level work is most useful in managing the CIO job, but the strongest vote registers for a master’s in business administration (MBA), with close competition from master’s in health administration (MHA) and master’s of information systems degrees. A few are calling for education more targeted to healthcare through training in health informatics. Respondents report much of the targeted healthcare training is coming after they’ve been in IT leadership seats for a while. CIOs are taking many routes to continue their education beyond primary degrees. Common ones include certifi cate programs in information systems, including certifi cates from the Health Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS) and the College of Health Information Management Executives (CHIME).


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