Can CIOs keep up with pace of change?

In healthcare, increasing demands and new expectations have CIOs worried
By Pamela Dixon
10:29 AM
Gear illustration

Retained, executive search firm, SSi-SEARCH, reveals new findings in its 2014 annual CIO survey results, designed to capture insights on how the CIO role is evolving. Among the findings: A growing workload and continued rapid change.

A key finding of the 2013 survey results showed that CIOs were taking on significantly greater responsibilities, budgets, and challenges. Alluding to those findings in their 2013 CIO whitepaper, titled, “Healthcare’s Million Dollar Man,” the majority of CIOs reported demands on their performance increased 25 - 50 percent in the five years since HITECH.  

The 2014 CIO survey shows there is no doubt in CIOs’ minds that their workload will continue to accelerate. The majority of CIOs are suggesting fatigue: 48 percent said they were concerned about their ability to keep pace with the change required of the role. This week’s installment on the CIO survey focuses on what the key demands are on the role, now and in the future, and how CIOs plan to keep pace with the change required of the role.  

[See also: CIO: No longer just 'the IT guy' and CIO salaries lag as work multiplies.]

SSi-SEARCH 2014 CIO Survey asked, “Which areas take the majority of your time?” CIOs responded:

  • Meaningful use 2 - 55 percent
  • EHR optimization - 55 percent
  • Analytics initiatives - 43 percent

When asked: “Which of the following areas does your health system perceive as most critical?” CIOs responded:

  • EHR optimization - 66 percent
  • Analytics initiatives - 63 percent
  • Population health - 63 percent
  • Meaningful use 2 - 59 percent

Looking back at the 2013 survey of 178 CIO-titled respondents, the majority of CIOs were most concerned about their ability to acquire the right resources in order to get their job done. A close second was concern about their strategic involvement. To the 2014 survey question “What is your greatest challenge in terms of accomplishing your objectives?”  the majority responded Budget (24 percent), followed by Resources (18 percent) and then Lack of Strategic Involvement (17 percent).  

The vast majority of CIOs reported they are most concerned about acquiring expertise in data analytics to meet the challenge of the role, today and in the future. We see interesting results in terms of how CIOs plan to make that happen.

CIOs were asked, “What is the most important capability you need to meet the challenge of your role now and in the future?” The vast majority, 46 percent, stated “Data Analytics.” The next most popular answer:  “Clinical expertise” at 22 percent.

Next we asked, “How would that skill be acquired or improved?” The majority of CIOs surveyed responded, “Partnering with another member of the team with this skill” closely followed by “Bringing on additional resources to augment the team with this skill set”. We also noted that “Advanced degree” came in last, or fourth place, at 7 percent. Interestingly, last week’s installment on the CIO titled, “Healthcare CIOs hit with big change” noted that the greatest determinant for CIO compensation appears to be education. The higher the education, the higher the compensation, suggesting that advanced degrees are highly valued by hospital administration.

Then we asked: In terms of partnership, which leadership roles are most critical to you in terms of achieving key objectives of your role?

The majority, 72 percent, of CIO respondents, stated it was the CEO.  Coming in at fifth place, 39 percent, said the CMIO was most critical to the CIO in terms of partnership.  This will provide an interesting point of comparison with the CMIO survey coming later. Next week we will look more closely at the strategic alignment with the system of CIO goals and objectives.