The growth of the CNIO role: 6 key findings

As healthcare informatics becomes more entwined with healthcare delivery, there has been a shift in executive leadership combining these two areas of expertise. A recent survey conducted by executive search firm Witt/Kieffer found an exponential growth in the number of CNIOs on executive leadership teams.

The survey was sent to CNIOs, CNOs, CIOs, CMIOs and other senior healthcare provider leaders. Comparing results to a 2011 survey in which just 4 percent of respondents had a CNIO title, 14 percent indicated having this title in 2016, a 250 percent increase.

Here are six key findings on the growing CNIO role, drawn from the survey.

1. In 2016, 51 percent of survey respondents said their organization has a CNIO, compared to 28 percent in 2011.

2. Forty-two percent of respondents said their CNIO reports to the CNO. Twenty-four percent report to the CIO, 16 percent report to the CMIO, 12 percent report to a dual CIO/CNO and 3 percent report to the CEO, CMO and "others."

3. The CNIO is largely seen as a strategic role, as top responsibilities include EMR and clinical IT system implementation and optimization, nursing strategy, IT strategy as it relates to nursing, daily collaboration with the CMIO on clinical IT matters, educating the organization on technology-related nursing, oversight and training of nursing and nursing informatics teams, project management and budgeting and resource allocation for clinical IT systems.

4. Also indicating the CNIO is a strategic role are the skills respondents said were "essential" in this role, the top being collaboration and consensus building, knowledge of nursing informatics, emotional intelligence, people management and team development. Skills seen as "very important" include vision and creativity, IT system implementation and business and finance. Skills seen as "important" include nursing, process improvement and change management expertise.

5. Slightly troubling is that 57 percent of respondents said the CNIO role is not understood or respected in their organization. The report suggests this is because many do not understand what exactly a CNIO's role is.

6. The majority of CNIOs (74 percent) said their salary falls between $150,000 and $200,000 a year.

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