How the CIO role is changing, per 4 CIOs

The CIO role has shifted; once a leader in tech, CIOs are now a member of the executive team, with increasing responsibility revolving around consumer experience, digitalization, technology, marketing and innovation. Those leaders once labeled as IT implementation and management are stepping out into more strategic positions.

Here, four health system and hospital CIOs share how the role has changed in 2022.

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and style.

Lisa Dykstra. Senior Vice President and CIO of Lurie Children's Hospital (Chicago). The CIO is uniquely positioned with a direct view into the many facets and complexities across the healthcare organization. This is one of the reasons we have continued to see an evolution of the role.  

With the onslaught of emerging business needs in healthcare, the CIO has taken on greater leadership responsibilities and often been a direct catalyst in advancing those needs. For example, CIOs now engage and direct teams to design and build foundations of technologies, processes and digital ecosystems with many partners throughout their organization. 

They also incorporate automation, digital, analytics, along with traditional, operational responsibilities, to drive change in the way we engage with our workforce, our patients and our providers.

Robert Tennant. CIO of Legacy Community Health (Houston). The traditional healthcare system CIO role was primarily a business to business function focused on enabling the clinical and non-clinical workforce. Today the role encompasses a business to consumer function that puts technology solutions directly in the hands of consumers. 

This shift is brought about by the convergence of digital technologies, the need to deliver care when and where consumers need it and the consumer's appetite for technology. Today's healthcare system CIO could benefit from a broader skill set that includes marketing, business modeling and even logistics.

Jennifer Wesson Greenman. CIO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America (Boca Raton, Fla.). What has changed, and undoubtedly reflects our new reality, is the view of CIO as champion and driver of strategic value creation.  

Now, CIO's must have the ability to execute and demonstrate a track record of successful delivery and adoption. 

Neal Patel, MD. CIO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Nashville, Tenn.). The CIO role is becoming much more strategic. We're now focusing on data utilization to make decisions, how systems impact clinical workflow, experience of clinical and staff and digitalization with the increasing technology integrations into health systems. 

Before, the CIO was focused on things behind the scenes, now we're evolving and it's because of technology's role in the health systems. Because technology has become so essential to a variety of levels in a health system, the CIO has more to worry about, which wasn't there in the past.

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