Healthcare CIOs earn big bucks

IT leaders see modest raises, comfortable compensation
By Erin McCann
08:05 AM

It pays a pretty penny to be a chief information officer in healthcare these days, according to a new report released Wednesday finding that industry CIOs earned an average base salary of $208,417 in 2012. 

These findings, when compared with previous reports on CIO salaries, position healthcare CIOs among the highest paid in that role across several industries. And they suggest that perhaps, just perhaps, all the time spent on new IT initiatives to meet meaningful use and other federal mandates may be paying off – at the bank, at least. 
The survey, conducted by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, also found salary raises for CIOs to be relatively modest over the years. Moreover, compensation for IT leaders varied widely based on size and type of organization, title held by the respondent and reporting relationships.
CIOs at multi-hospital systems and CIOs also holding other executives titles, such as vice president, were among the highest paid in the position, seeing an average base salary of $254,054 and $310,326 respectively. Contrastingly, CIOs at critical access hospitals reported the lowest base compensation of $125,573. 
By region, CIOs living in Pacific Coast and New England states earned the highest salaries. CIOs working in the South Atlantic and West South Central (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana) earned the lowest salaries. 
CHIME officials tout the survey as the largest compensation review conducted in recent years by the  organization, which has more than 1,450 members in CIO and senior level healthcare IT roles. Eighteen percent of CHIME’s membership took part in the survey between late December 2012 and early January 2013.
The lion's share of CIOs received minimal base salary increases compared with what they were paid in 2011, according to its findings. Forty-four percent reported receiving either no increase or less than a 3 percent raise. Overall, 74 percent of CIOs received less than a 5 percent increase in salary.
“While CIOs are taking on increasing responsibility to implement systems that are mission-critical, salary increases have been modest as healthcare organizations adjust to tighter reimbursement for care and rising costs in a number of areas,” said Gary Barnes, CIO at Medical Center Health System in Odessa, Texas, in a statement.
Reporting structure also had an impact on IT executive base salary levels. For example, 44 percent of respondents reporting to the CEO earned an average base salary of $217,170. By contrast, the 21 percent of CIOs reporting to their CFOs earned an average of $175,263. 
“As CIOs take on high-profile projects that affect the delivery of care and improved charge capture, they are gaining more attention from senior executives,” said Linda Hodges, senior vice president at Witt/Kieffer and a former member of CHIME’s board of trustees, in a statement. “Reporting relationships often take a while to change in healthcare organizations, but the CIO’s role in achieving strategic initiatives is significant at most hospitals now.”
When compared with the average base compensation of CIOs across all industries, in many recent reports, CIOs in healthcare come out on top. 
According to a 2013 Janco study, the average base salary for CIOs across all industries was $182,210, more than $26,000 lower than the mean base salary of healthcare CIOs. 
Similarly, a 2013 report conducted by Robert Half Technology also found average base salaries for CIOs across the board ranged from $145,500 to $234,750. 
Senior IT leaders in healthcare were paid more their counterparts in the manufacturing, financial, education and government sector, according to the findings of an earlier report by
Other findings from the CHIME survey include:


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