We asked 36 industry experts what role is missing in the IT C-suite — Here's what they think

It's not just the CIO at the helm of hospital IT today. The hospital IT C-suite is rapidly expanding, as organizations add chief information security officers, chief medical information officers and chief technology officers to their executive leadership branches.

To forecast what's on the horizon, the Becker's Hospital Review team took the exhibit floor at the 2018 HIMSS Annual Conference & Exhibition in Las Vegas to ask 36 health IT and hospital executives the following question: What role do you think we'll see in hospitals next?

These responses have been edited for length and clarity. If you'd like to add your thoughts to this compilation, please contact Jessica Kim Cohen at jcohen@beckershealthcare.com.

Carl Dvorak. President of Epic (Verona, Wis.): Chief counting officer. The hardest thing to consider when going into an install, and so many of the challenges associated with mergers and acquisitions, is that people count things too many different ways. If we standardize how we count things, we can benchmark across the community to understand healthcare at the data level. Standardizing would force honest-to-goodness discussion on what numbers mean across sites, and encourage numbers to be universally comparable across sites.

Kyle Armbrester. Chief Product Officer of athenahealth (Watertown, Mass.): It's going to continue to shift to customer experience — not just patient experience. We're seeing a lot of hospital and health systems try to rebrand themselves as consumer-oriented companies. It's getting away from the words we've always used in healthcare, like "patient," and going to this consumer-oriented mindset. High-deductible health plans are on the rise, and patients are taking on more responsibility, day by day.

Marc Wilson. Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of Global Partners and Industries at Appian (Reston, Va.): The one you are missing in the alphabet soup is CDO. We are seeing a lot of chief digital officers and chief data officers. The interesting thing about these C-level titles is it really needs to be individuals who have a cross-cutting role, a transverse role, and sometimes these old titles don't necessarily reflect the transverse role the way I think the executive positions of tomorrow need to be.

Fritz Haimberger. Global Industry Leader for Healthcare Providers at Appian (Reston, Va.): We're seeing a lot of chief transformation officers now. It's taking the CIO from the typical CIO role, [and rolling the] chief innovation officer into that. Now executives are saying the CIO of the healthcare organization is the one who's here to keep the lights on, the ongoing processes, the ongoing maintenance of existing systems. The ongoing innovation … we're increasingly seeing that as the chief innovation, digital or transformation officer.

Paul M. Black. CEO of Allscripts (Chicago): A new version of a COO, a clinical resource planner or a clinical resource manager, who's really dialed into the minute-by-minute things that are going on inside the hospital. Hospitals have all this data as a result of clinical automation, which is probably not being used as efficiently as it could be to get better throughput in the organization. When you think about the coordination of resources — like beds, nurses, physicians, medical devices — there's not a lot of people building a system's view of all the resources that are required to converge to take care of the patient and their current acuity level. It's an amazing amount of high-dollar resources that are not being used as efficiently as they could be. I see a role for a group of people that sit central command and really manage that data to get more throughput.

Vinay Vaidya, MD. Vice President and Chief Medical Information Officer of Phoenix Children's Hospital: Data is becoming the center of everything, so a chief data architect, a chief data scientist, a chief innovation officer or some combination like that. The person who's sitting at the top of the data is no longer the database administrator. I really see the data scientist, who used to be in their research lab, as affecting clinical, operational and financial areas. Data is going to reign as the king, and the person who controls that will have a 'C' in front of their name.

Jan L.L. Kimpen. Chief Medical Officer of Royal Philips (Amsterdam): I don't know if there will be a new role, but I see, with customers, that the role of the CIO and chief medical information officer are becoming more and more important. Today, the CIO is in the driver seat because healthcare is going to be transformed by IT so much, and is going to be dependent on IT so much, that you have to step up the role of the CIO to the highest level of the company. The CIO needs to be involved in all the decision making and organizing of business going forward.

Ben Kanter, MD. Chief Medical Information Officer of Vocera (San Jose): It's going to be a change in the role, responsibility and reporting structure. The CMIO may no longer report to the CIO, and maybe he or she will report to the chief quality officer or the chief medical officer. Hospitals have put in the EHR, digitized as much as possible, and now the question is how to drive actionable insights from the information. You have more emphasis on data structure and user information. It's about making the operational and clinical sides more data-oriented, and tying inside the four walls of the hospital with outside the four walls of the hospital, and dissolving silos.

Mark Johnston. Director of Global Business Development for Healthcare and Life Sciences at Amazon Web Services (Seattle): The chief cloud officer. As organizations are adapting to the ever-evolving landscape in healthcare, they need to properly manage and secure their most precious currency: data. To do this, we're seeing many healthcare organizations move to the cloud to make it easy to ingest data for downstream reuse and analysis, whether it is structured, unstructured or streaming. This of course is an important part of their operation, and as IT departments bring competency and scale in the cloud to support this work, organizations will need a dedicated leader at the helm to help drive efforts.

Don Woodlock. Vice President of HealthShare with InterSystems (Cambridge, Mass): Chief innovation officer. For a lot of our larger, academic or multiple hospital customers, we're seeing them setting up innovation centers. For example, UPMC in Pittsburgh, which I have worked with for years, have set up a robust innovation center. Partners, Northwell and Bay State are also setting up innovation areas to explore some of the new technologies, like AI, analytics, genomics, mobile apps and Alexa at Home, things like that, to try different care models and technology models in a way that doesn't necessarily impact their production systems.

Hillary Ross. Managing Director and Leader of the Healthcare IT Practice at Witt/Kieffer (Oak Brook, Ill.): I think it's the chief innovation officer. It's someone who oversees innovation and has a dedicated budget to innovation.

James Dawson. Vice President of IT at GlobalMed (Scottsdale, Ariz.): Probably somewhere in cloud architecture or cloud solutions, as workloads transition out of the traditional data center and into more abstract space, whether it’s a third-party provider or a self-built cloud environment. The temptation is to lift-and-shift these workloads into a cloud provider, but that can be very dangerous to a business continuity plan if the environment isn't well understood.

Joel Gleason. Senior Vice President and Global Market Head of the Provider Segment at Cognizant (Teaneck, N.J.): The chief consumerization officer. This is the person that has to create the greater linkage to the consumer, managing connectedness to the consumer or the community, because of the shift to a more consumer-centric healthcare setting. That relationship, that connectedness, is so critical to a health system's brand and growth.

Eric Sullivan. Senior Vice President of Innovation and Data Strategies at Inovalon (Bowie, Md.): We're seeing more around the data side, a chief data scientist or a chief data officer. A lot of traditional technology roles are morphing into taking the data you're getting out of that technology and making sense of it, but this shift requires data-scientist-type people who understand how to use it.

Tim Smith. National Leader for Healthcare IT Practice at Deloitte: It's more of a propagation of some of those roles. The chief information security officer is an incredibly important role, given everything going on with cyberattacks. I still don't think every health system has a CISO, so that's really important for a health system to focus on. Also, making sure they've got a very strong chief medical information officer and chief nursing informatics officer, as well as a technical administrative officer, or someone really relevant to revenue cycle. It's important to have a leader in IT who's aligned with every aspect of the business.

Richard Cramer. Chief Healthcare Strategist at Informatica (Redwood City, Calif.): An officer who does data management, because that's what analytics relies on. A chief data officer would have responsibility for managing data as an enterprise asset, very similar to what a CFO does for money, or what a chief people officer does for people. That's really the opportunity for a chief data officer.

Kim Jackson. Vice President of Strategy, Products and Governance at St. Joseph Health System (Irvine, Calif.): I can only hope a chief data officer. My organization has one. As analytics becomes more and more the core of what we do in healthcare and how we manage information, having a key leader in that space is crucial to making sure we have the value to drive analytical decisions.

Jeff Hayes. Executive Vice President and Co-Founder of Koan Health (Dallas): A more formal role in the area of data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence and various forms of higher-level analytics that provide powerful tools for the organization. Healthcare systems are awash in data, and staff are overwhelmed with alerts and indicators. They need to harness the power of big data in tools that simplify the process and make it easier for caregivers to practice medicine and eliminate the administrative tasks that consume their time.

Brent Newhouse. Co-Founder and Head of Customer Success at Qventus (Los Altos, Calif.): An interoperability officer. I see software systems that could be delivering more value for the hospital if they were getting the data they needed, but there's not really a role at a hospital whose job is to make sure outside solutions are being fully realized by virtue of the data that's being sent to them, or thinking about the strategy of what investments into outside solutions we're making right now to allow for that in the future.

Kristen Simmons. Senior Vice President of Consumer Health at Experian Health (Franklin, Tenn.): A chief experience officer. Providers struggle to look across everything they're doing — clinical, financial, even how the parking is — and pull all that together to make the patient experience great. There are patient experience officers and customer experience officers showing up at some large providers now, but they're taking very different shapes, in some cases exclusively focused on the clinical side or the revenue cycle management side. I think it's really for the technologists in the world, the CIOs, to think about as well, because all the systems are going to have to support a more consistent and seamless end-to-end patient journey.

Will O'Connor, MD. Chief Medical Information Officer of TigerConnect (Santa Monica, Calif.): Maybe a chief patient officer or a chief member officer. It would be the person who runs the strategy for how to engage patients. If you look at all health outcomes, 20 percent is clinical care and 30 percent is driven by patient behaviors, so it's an important component that we haven't paid that much attention to. A health system having an officer strategy designed to engage patients in their own care, and to improve care, and to lower the cost of care, will be the next types of roles we'll see in organizations.

Mike Baird. CEO and Founder of Avizia (Reston, Va.): We're seeing a lot of chief digital officers that have backgrounds in artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data, et cetera, as well as new collaboration technologies like telehealth.

Cory Costley. Chief Product Officer of Avizia (Reston, Va.): If you haven't seen it already, you'll see a type of position focused on data insights or artificial intelligence, where the officer is working with data to try to find ways to drive value.

Mitchell Josephson. Vice President of Strategic Relations at KLAS (Orem, Utah): KLAS put out a report on cybersecurity last year, and we found only 40 percent of those surveyed had a chief information security officer, and of that 40 percent, half were actually the CIO or the chief technology officer. Think about these officers wearing that dual hat, and the type of burden that puts on them. We need to get to a point where 100 percent of hospitals have a CISO, have someone on the executive level really helping to drive cybersecurity strength and fortitude. Another title I see emerging is a chief patient officer or a chief patient experience officer. Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City — and I'm sure there's others, but since we live in Utah — we know that Intermountain has gone out and hired an executive from Disney as their chief consumer officer. You're going to see this position taking off like wildfire, especially when patient engagement is such a big opportunity as we move into value-based care environments. We've also done quite a bit of work over in the U.K., where we've started to see the term chief digital officer emerge, and now we're starting to see it emerge in the U.S.

Tom Utech, PharmD. Vice President of Solutions Management at BD (Franklin Lakes, N.J.): The big one we'll see is the chief nursing informatics officer, who will bring a huge focus on clinical workflows. We're starting to see quite a few CNIOs pop up, which helps to address nursing as the largest workforce within the healthcare system. CNIOs are really focused on how to improve efficiency without sacrificing quality or safety.

Mike Coen. Vice President of Engineering at TeleTracking (Pittsburgh): Most businesses are evolving to have something like a chief data officer. The CIO typically focuses on things like IT, so dealing with the hardware, the network and then potentially the software systems that run on top of that. The CDO is a role that's focused purely on the use and leveraging of data in ways that benefit the organization.

Kris Kaneta. Senior Vice President of Marketing at TeleTracking (Pittsburgh): I think you're going to see, whether it's a bleeding into one role or just a cohesion, between the traditional CIO and COO. As we continue to see consolidation, as we continue to see health systems grow, the goal is to create and integrate a system. To do that, you need leadership that's going to embrace acting like a system. Whether that's someone in a COO role or a CIO role, the focus is going to be 'How do we integrate and behave as a system, holding our multidisciplinary teams accountable to each other and recognizing that we are all in this for the patient?'

John Brindley. Vice President of Healthcare Strategy at Ricoh (Malvern, Pa.): Someone with clinical expertise; it could be a chief medical officer or a chief medical information officer. In my whole experience from healthcare, everybody hates their IT system. If you have Cerner, you hate Cerner. If you have Epic, you hate Epic. With the clinical experience component, it's having a person who can help think through, 'How do we really make the system user friendly?'

Maulik Purohit, MD. Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Information Officer of University Health System (San Antonio): There's more and more importance on clinical integration going on today, and I think you're going to see, in every specialty — physicians, nurses, therapists, pharmacists — the role of a clinician who can traverse between clinical practice and IT. That's going to be the biggest market coming up in the future to help a hospital meet its metrics, analyze its data and improve its operations. The role of pure IT will diminish.

Chrissa McFarlane. CEO and Founder of Patientory (Atlanta): A chief technical architect, a CTA. In healthcare right now we're catching up to a lot of consumer industries, and a lot of our infrastructure is being rewritten, especially when we talk about blockchain and distributed architectures. Healthcare can really benefit from having someone to focus on these architectures.

Patrick Morrell. Co-Founder and Vice President of Sales at Digitize.AI (Charlotte, N.C.): Chief patient technology integration officer. At the end of the day, we're all passionate about healthcare IT because we're passionate about bringing care to fellow community members. It's the idea of a 'dot connecting' C-level person who has the necessary patient care mission, can really speak technology as well, and can connect the dots throughout the organization. That will be a really exciting role to be in and a really compelling role for a growing system to build.

Susan Taylor. Vice President and General Manager of Healthcare and Life Sciences at Pegasystems (Cambridge, Mass.): The chief customer experience officer. I think that role will really transform hospitals from a delivery industry to a service industry, which is key.

Chris Sullivan. Global Healthcare Practice Lead at Zebra Technologies (Lincolnshire, Ill.): A chief strategist. Today, when we think about what makes a world-class organization, we think of the quality of the medical staff. Tomorrow's best hospitals are not just going to be patient care companies, they're going to be technology companies, and the role of a chief strategist that can envision and use rigor and science around decision-making, strategy and planning is the role I'd suggest.

Nicolas Schmidt. Head of Healthcare Products at Nokia Technologies (Sunnyvale, Calif.). The chief remote monitoring officer. Remote patient monitoring is becoming a profit center for the hospital, so a CRMO would be someone who's in charge of all the technology, to help the staff understand what's going on in a patient's life outside of the hospital. It's about the devices and apps, as well as the connectivity back to the hospital, the communication back to the patient and — probably the most important piece — all of the analytics. A key question is 'How do we scale remote monitoring?', and the analytics part is important for helping care providers understand, 'These are the patients we need to reach out to.'

Tony Thomas. President and CEO of Windstream (Little Rock, Ark.): At Windstream Enterprise, we've seen the role of the chief experience officer, who focuses patient experience, start to arise. That will be one of the big areas of growth at the C-suite: patient experience and patient engagement. It's really similar to trends we've seen in other industries, which healthcare is now adopting.

Kirsten Edmondson Wolfe. Senior Director of Industry Product Marketing, Cloud and Enterprise at Microsoft (Redmond, Wash.). As the technology world moves from on-premises into the cloud, we are going to see a rise in IT management, and a collaborative working relationship between business leaders and IT, as a sort of trusted source of guidance. I also think we are going to see an increase in internal developers. One of the things many cloud vendors do is give internal developers freedom to learn about the tools available to them, so they can develop new solutions for their specific hospitals. We are working to create reference architectures and architectural guidance for the Microsoft cloud to allow those developers to get started quicker. I see that becoming a trend in IT, as the baseline services move into the cloud. You can free up your resources to be more creative and more agile.

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