CIOs are integral to hospitals' next big strategic shift

Hospital CIOs began to emerge as key strategic leaders years ago after the implementation of EHRs, and their influence in the C-suite continues to grow.

Hospitals and health systems have invested heavily in IT infrastructure, talent and cybersecurity to keep their organizations running smoothly. The pandemic accelerated virtual care and digital transformation for many organizations, and now all executives are focused on defining their competitive edge in the patient-driven healthcare ecosystem.

"The role of a CIO is changing," Ben Patel, CIO of Cone Health in Greensboro, N.C., said on the "Becker's Digital Health + Health IT" podcast. "We're moving away from being a builder and developer to more of an orchestrator or integrator of technology and services. We are moving away from being an order taker to being an enabler of the business strategy and priorities, and most of us are helping define those business strategies and the art of the possible."

CIOs have a seat at the table with the CEOs, CFOs and other strategic leaders to focus on investment and capital resources allocation. Cone Health is launching a new business strategy, and Mr. Patel has been a key stakeholder in the initiative.

"We've been working on our business strategy and I'm excited because part of the strategy is truly focused on how we drive our consumer brand," he said. "That's going to be huge for us as we move to a more consumer-focused approach."

While clinicians are responsible for patient care and outcomes, the IT leaders are increasingly focused on ensuring patients have access to care and navigation to the right providers. The website and digital application user experience requires CIOs to take the lead and deliver on the vision of a better patient experience through digital transformation.

"Every CIO is dedicated to some sort of a patient or user experience," Mr. Patel said. "That is going to create a demand for tools, technologies and avenues for our consumers and patients to navigate our complex healthcare system and be able to get that unique experience while at the same time reducing the cost of care."

 

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