The State of the Healthcare CIO

As I’ve talked to hundreds of healthcare CIOs this week at the CHIME Fall Forum, a number of themes keep coming up. No doubt there’s always a lot of excitement in the air at a conference like this. In many ways, it’s great that there’s a good, optimistic energy at a conference. A conference wouldn’t be very good without that energy, but under the covers, there’s often more to the story. Here are some broad insights into the state of the healthcare CIO that goes beyond the natural excitement and energy of a conference.

No More Systems – Most of the CIOs who I’ve talked to feel like they have all the IT systems they need. In fact, most are trying to find ways to get rid of IT systems. They’re not looking to add any more IT systems to their mix. There’s a strong desire to simplify their current setup and to maximize the benefits their current IT systems. They don’t want to add new ones.

Do Want Solutions – While healthcare CIOs don’t want to add new systems, they do want to find solutions that will be complementary to their existing systems. There is a massive desire to optimize what they’re doing and show value from their current IT systems. Solutions that are proven and work on top of their existing infrastructure are welcomed by these CIOs.

Security Is Still a Concern – I have a feeling that this topic may never die. Security is still a huge concern for CIOs and something that will continue to be important for a long time to come. Most now have some kind of security strategy in place, but I haven’t met anyone that’s totally comfortable with their security strategy. It seems that this is what keeps CIOs up at night more than any other issue.

Analytics Is a Challenge – Most of the healthcare CIOs know that analytics is going to be an important part of their future. They can see the potential value that analytics can provide, but most don’t know where to find these analytics. Most organizations don’t have a clear analytics strategy or direction. We’re still just seeing anecdotal results for very specific solutions. There’s no clear direction that every healthcare CIO is following for analytics.

CIOs are Stressed – It was very appropriate that yesterday’s keynote presentation was on turning stress into a positive. Most of the healthcare CIOs I met are quite stressed. They have a lot on their plates and most don’t know how they’re going to manage it all. Plus, they’re still overwhelmed by all the changing regulations and reimbursement changes. The fact that there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight adds to that stress.

Turnover is Still High – It seems that there’s still a lot of turnover that’s happening with CIOs. This is a challenge when it comes to continuity at organizations. However, those CIOs that have been able to stay at an organization for a longer period of time are starting to see new opportunities to be more strategic. They’ve fought all the initial fires and cleaned up the processes and now they can start working on more strategic initiatives.

Holding On vs Embracing Change – I see two different views evolving by CIOs. Many are holding on tightly to the old Chief Infrastructure Officer versus embracing the new Chief Innovation Officer mindset. CHIME is certainly espousing the view of the CIO becoming a Chief Innovation Officer and it’s the view that I think is best as well. However, there are plenty of CIOs that just want to provide the technology to their organization. It will be interesting to see what happens to both of these approaches to the CIO position.

Those are some high-level thoughts from talking with CIOs at the CHIME Fall Forum. What are you seeing? Are you seeing or hearing anything different from what I described above? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, 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,, 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.