The Divide Between Healthcare Marketing (CMO) and Healthcare IT (CIO) Is Deep

This week I had the pleasure of attending the SHSMD (Society for Health Care Strategy & Market Development) 2019 Annual conference in Nashville, TN. For those not familiar with the event, it’s hosted by the AHA (American Hospital Association) and brings together hospital and healthcare marketers for trainings, certifications, etc.

The event was their largest to date and included a number of really amazing keynote speakers. My favorites were Sekou Andrews and Carla Moore who were extremely inspiring. The creativity displayed in Sekou’s poetic voice keynote was something I’ll never forget. Plus, Carla’s message was powerful including this great equation for life: Passion + Purpose = Power.

At the conference, I had a chance to connect and talk with hundreds of healthcare marketing professionals. It was fascinating for me to see what challenges they faced and how different those challenges were across organizations. No doubt there were some common bonds, but how progressive certain organizations were in their marketing efforts versus others was quite varied. Many were still trying to figure out the basics while others had some extremely advanced and targeted marketing solutions and tactics.

While the challenges were wide and varied, there was one challenge that seemed to be present in every hospital and health system. There’s a massive divide between the healthcare marketing department and the healthcare IT department.

What’s interesting is that I’d seen the same thing when attending a CIO conference like the CHIME Fall Forum. In most organizations, it seems like there’s almost no communication, connection, or collaboration between the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) and the CIO. I think that’s a terrible thing for healthcare and is probably going to be a big problem going forward.

The biggest reason I think this will be a problem is that much of the future of value based care is going to require a healthcare organization to be able to deploy effective marketing tactics. When I look at what’s required to ensure patient adherence to various care plans, that looks much more like marketing than it does IT. However, the IT department together with the clinical department (usually) is the one in charge of those programs. Do you see a problem here? And we wonder why those clinical reminder texts don’t get good responses when we’re not involving marketing minds who can help to make them more effective.

The same is also true for marketing people who really need the support and help of IT. I met a whole bunch of people who really wanted patient self scheduling and other technologies like it. Have you ever tried to do patient self scheduling without the support of IT? Not going to happen.

The future of marketing to healthcare is going to be measurably better if healthcare marketers work in collaboration with IT. The same is true for IT working with marketing.

Have you ever seen an organization that’s bridged this divide? If so, I’d love to learn what they did to overcome the silos. What’s been your experience with this? What can we do to improve this in healthcare?

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.


  • Great observation, John! In your opinion, how would an organization in which the marketing side was well integrated with the IT side look differently from what they look like today (working in silos)? Would they be better at certain things on the patient-facing side, better at clinician productivity, smarter about value based care in specific ways, etc.? Would love to learn more about what you’re seeing as the outcomes of a better marketing+IT marriage.

  • We have a full Healthcare IT Today podcast on the topic which is coming soon. That said, I think it just starts with the two departments talking together and spending time together. Right now there’s almost no communication, so there’s no opportunity to know how they can help each other. So, let’s start by having them get to know each other so they can know each others strengths and processes so they can do things together.

    More specifically, I think IT departments could leverage marketing to more effectively market their IT programs. Adoption and participation in many of the IT department efforts is a challenge and marketing could help. On the other end, IT could benefit from helping marketing implement more consumer focused technologies which would be good to the bottom line of the healthcare organization. Those are a few ideas.

  • John, Great article and so true.I feel marketing and sales aligning together gives a stronger presence together, as Chief Revenue Officier and team have many of the same problem being in a different silo from the CIO , I have seen marketing and sales being in the same silo is more inviting to the CIO. As Brene Brown author of “Dare to Lead” would say they all need to rumble in the same container.

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