Hospital CIO Jobs

The past couple days, I’ve been at the CHIME Fall CIO Forum in Palm Springs. This is my first time attending the event and it’s been an eye opening experience to say the least. It’s an amazing experience to have casual conversations with many in the healthcare IT industry and particularly with hospital CIOs.

While chatting with a former hospital CIO who now is on the vendor side, he made this fascinating observation:

I travel around and talk to a handful of CIOs every week as part of my job. When I meet with these hospital CIOs and hear about the challenges they face in their institution, I don’t get the feeling “That’s a really swell place to work. I want that job.”

In this current economic climate, it’s hard for anyone to feel really bad for a well paid hospital CIO (Yes, some are better paid than others). I acknowledge that many around the country would argue that a hospital CIO should be glad to have a job, and one that pays above the national average salary.

This general economic argument aside, I think it’s worth noting the challenging situation that many hospital CIOs face. Regardless of how much someone is paid, that doesn’t change the enormous challenge that most hospital CIOs confront every day.

Yes, we could start with the list of alphabet soup including: meaningful use, EHR, ACOs, 5010, HIE, and ICD-10 to name just a few. However, that’s just the beginning of what they’re dealing with in their jobs. Another major one worth mentioning is managing the budgets. It’s a complex, high pressure job whenever money is involved. Add in all the various maintenance, people management, process management, etc etc etc and the hospital CIO has a tough job.

This has never been more clear to me than at CHIME where the hospital CIOs all come and commiserate. I don’t think we should feel bad for these hospital CIOs and I don’t think they’re asking us to do that either. Although, it’s worth acknowledging that hospital CIOs face a tough and challenging job and I don’t see that changing any time soon. I appreciate those that are willing to take up the challenge and that perform so well in the face of such a changing environment.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

7 Comments

  • John, very interesting topic and observation. Something that is never written up in Blogs or Magazines. In addition to the mountain of challenges you’ve listed, here is one that is almost always unspoken, but can become even bigger than technology, Processes or Regulations.

    Respect. We know how Doctors and administrators (most of them are physicians themselves), have such tremendous egos that technologists/CIOs are considered a ‘lowly’ breed.

    In Rodney Dangerfield’s words – “I don’t get no Respect”.

  • Janet,
    I don’t know of any right now. An interesting observation from CHIME is that the number of CIO positions is shrinking as hospitals continue to consolidate. So, that’s not a good trend for those looking for a hospital CIO position.

  • I think the attitude can vary greatly between hospitals / hospital groups. A lot of it may come from how the internal community views IT. If they see it as incompetent, a necessary evil, slow to respond, etc. it won’t be a whole lot of fun going to work.

    I met several managers (during interviews and a job fair) from one group recently. I had a distinct feeling that they really liked their work, and that at least some of them had worked there for many years. They appeared to have a good relationship with the medical community – hard earned that it may have been.

    How EHR’s are implemented in a hospital or its attached practices has a huge influence on how the medical side perceive them, and when the implementations have been poorly done, relations will be poor, and morale in the IT community even worse.

  • I was speaking with someone yesterday that works at a Hospital in NY, they are everything that is ‘cloud’ based – a Private Cloud I might add, but this virtually negates the requirement of a CIO at the Hospital. Instead, they have someone that is in charge of Implementation.

  • The cloud doesn’t negate the CIO requirement. There’s still a ton of work integrating it. This is even more true with a Private Cloud.

  • I think John would agree that regardless of where the servers are, a CIO is still responsible for them whether in the building or a thousand miles away. He/she is responsible for procuring the capacity, for ensuring the quality of communications, backups, etc. The difference is that the bulk of the IT staff is not directly on the hospital payroll and that the hardware is probably not owned by the hospital. But in one sense there is more to worry about; lots of things are not under the direct control of the CIO.

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