A manager, doctor and IT specialist all in one
A CMIO is usually a doctor interested in new technologies in healthcare. This person does not need special education, but should be passionate about digital health advancements and new medical innovations. Very rarely, CMIOs have a degree in health information technology; it’s usually the case in the US, where this role already has a long tradition.
In most organizations, CMIOs still work as doctors and treat patients. However, their additional competencies include orchestrating digital transformation. In the classic approach, the IT department deals with the IT-related issues in a healthcare organization – from developing digital infrastructure to servicing it. This model was established in the 90s, when only IT specialists had know-how about information and communication systems, whereas doctors had to follow their opinions blindly and accept their decisions.
However, practice shows that this approach often leads to conflicts between the needs of the medical staff and tools implemented arbitrarily by the management board and administration departments. Thus, CMIO links two completely different worlds: IT and medicine.
Mission: harmonizing medicine and IT
In practice, CMIOs are advocates of digitalization from the perspective of doctors and nurses. Their goal is to strike a balance between the usability of IT systems and the needs of end users, as well as improve the user experience, maximize the benefits of implemented digital solutions, and ensure that every healthcare professional is included in the digital transformation. In this way, a CMIO takes care that the IT infrastructure supports workflows and the patient journey, thus making it easier to perform work.
The main competencies of a CMIO include the following:
- Designing and integrating IT systems in medical departments;
- Analyzing the use of technology on an ongoing basis, for example, analyzing electronic health records (EHR) to determine their impact on patient care;
- Establishing the standards of using internal medical terminology;
- Training doctors on how to use software and checking how software is used;
- Co-deciding which digital tools are implemented;
- Cooperating with senior executives on strategic digital transformation;
- Monitoring input data quality and bottlenecks in administrative and clinical processes related to IT systems or the absence of such systems;
- Consulting any disruptions caused by the implemented IT tools with the management;
- Quickly identifying any potential gaps in data protection;
- Improving the quality of clinical processes by implementing appropriate e-health solutions;
- consulting training needs.
Every facility has different tasks for a CMIO
A CMIO may report directly to a given facility’s director or its chief information specialist. The critical element is the employees’ trust in a CMIO. This is why it should be a person who has strong authority in terms of both clinical and technological knowledge, is empathetic, and understands the software-related challenges of the medical staff.
The role of a chief medical information officer is flexible and varies from one medical facility to another. In large hospitals, it can also include co-designing business intelligence tools that support the clinical decision-making process. In smaller outpatient clinics, on the other hand, the main goal is to harmonize IT solutions with work procedures, support staff in solving software-related problems and build an innovative work culture.