Healthcare CIO (healthcare chief information officer)

A healthcare CIO (healthcare chief information officer) is an executive at a healthcare organization that oversees the operation of the information technology department and consults with other C-level personnel on technology-related needs and purchasing decisions.

Healthcare chief information officers are the professionals within a healthcare system that often lead the internal IT department in conversation and planning about how to handle the growing amount of digital data at the disposal of physicians and other employees. For example, healthcare CIOs may need to help select which data collected by a patient's mHealth device can be used during care or treatment.

A healthcare CIO may also have a say in how and if a healthcare facility decides to support newer technologically-advanced patient care modalities, such as telemedicine and remote patient monitoring. Healthcare CIOs help determine if the resources needed to acquire and install new software or medical equipment is worth the investment. How long it will take to train employees and the disruption the learning process will present to the patient care workflow are other considerations that should be measured by CIOs before committing to a new technological project or system update.

Many healthcare CIOs have played a role in helping their organizations join health information exchanges to promote better interoperability, or inter-system sharing, of patients' EHRs.

Healthcare CIOs often play a large part in buying decisions for healthcare organizations by determining where the budget should be spent. Maintaining HIPAA compliance and preparing for the transition to the ICD-10 medical coding set are some current goals that many healthcare organizations have in mind. Strengthening organizational control of protected health information, migrating storage or other services to the cloud and buying an analytics product or software are other areas in which healthcare CIOs have a say.

The role of the healthcare CIO changed after passage of the HITECH Act in 2009, which was created to promote the adoption of healthcare technology. The HITECH Act also spawned the meaningful use program, which is administrated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Healthcare providers that have deployed EHR systems are eligible to receive incentive payments for attesting to meaningful use criteria.

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is a professional group composed of more than 1,400 members, many of whom are healthcare CIOs. CHIME members come from across the spectrum of healthcare organizations including clinics, physician groups, health information exchanges, hospitals and government agencies.

This was last updated in May 2015

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