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Every Organization has a "CMIO"


Although much less frequently of late, when I meet new people the question of "What's a CMIO" still comes up fairly often. I'm sure this is true for other CMIOs as well which probably explains why it now merits an entry in Wikipedia- the definitive source for definitions! However, as those in the know already understand, the definition of CMIO orbits around our continuously evolving industry of healthcare and the role continues to change along with the flux in the demands of our clinical environments. The purpose of this brief post is to update the definition of what a CMIO is and to establish that an aptitude for technology is NOT the chief characteristic of a great CMIO (1). Perhaps most interestingly, I suggest that almost ALL businesses already have a CMIO among their ranks- be it a situational or designated (2) position.

"A Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO) is a healthcare executive generally responsible for the health informatics platform required to work with clinical IT staff to support the efficient design, implementation, and use of health information technology within a healthcare organization."
Adapted from Wikipedia

The above definition is good, but definitely incomplete. The CMIO role has two core competencies that are crucial for optimal effectiveness- these are leadership and process/workflow management. A third component, which in my opinion is optional but still strongly recommended, is an aptitude to understand/apply technology, which is sometimes the ONLY characteristic that is valued by organizations that are hiring CMIOs (3). Those strong in the core competencies are usually terrific healthcare executives and I am fortunate to work with quite a number of such persons in both my parent health system and in my surrounding medical community. Incidentally, this is what I believe qualifies me to author this post.

The Kicker

I would like to assert that ALL organizations, even outside of healthcare, have a "CMIO". It may not be a person on their organizational chart or even with a defined set of objectives, but someone that understands the business intelligence (BI) of the organization while also having the authority to both formally and informally influence change, aka transformation. I would even proclaim that those that can INFORMALLY influence change are usually more successful for their organization than those that are less fortunate. In the case of the CMIO, it is CLINICAL process management that is the core skill. Excellence in this skill is equally as applicable to a logistics firm as it is to an ice cream manufacturer as it is to a financial services company. The fact is that all companies NEED to have a CMIO, and most do and may not even know it!

So what about the CIO? Isn't that the role we're talking about here? Perhaps for most organizations it qualifies, however, organizations that have technical offerings that require specialized training (law firms, healthcare, engineering, design) would tremendously benefit from a designated "CxIO"- an expert in the business intelligence as well as in leadership, process management, and hopefully understanding how technology can improve the BI- full circle.
Skill set of a great CMIO

Summary: Go hug your "CMIO"

So my proposal is for us all to look around our respective organizations and identify our "CMIOs". If you haven't already, it may be a good idea to recognize this work and more formally align it to the strategic goals of your company. With the rapidly inclining role of business analytics, many healthcare organizations are culling out these skills into a new "Chief Data Analytics Officer" position so it is probably more important now than ever before to define who is dedicated to this function in your organization. Most importantly, don't make the mistake of saying your organization doesn't need a CMIO- leadership, process management, and aptitude for technology are skills that are inherent in the workforce of all successful organizations (4).

In case you're wondering, here would be my Wikipedia entry:
"A Chief Medical Information Officer is a healthcare executive that applies competencies in leadership and clinical process/workflow management to the design, implementation, and use of every informatics platform within a healthcare organization."

  1. This actually works against me since I'm one of the geekiest CMIOs you'll ever meet, but I digress...
  2. This post is meant for all viewers but is engineered for lay-persons. It would be interesting to delve further into this topic from the perspective of other healthcare CMIOs, but that has been covered fairly well in our literature, so where's the fun in that?
  3. Organizations that require an incoming CMIO have previous experience in a particular EHR or technology should pay particular attention to this post. You're way off...
  4. This post should get a LOT of hits, but not by my parent organization- they've already done a wonderful job hiring me and my fabulous colleagues... ;)


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