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Changes to Industry to Impact Role of Healthcare CIOs

A Harvey Nash and KPMG survey shows that healthcare CIOs are seeing growing responsibilities in light of industry policy changes.

By Sara Heath

- The role of the CIO is expanding and the role of healthcare CIO is no exception, according to a recent Harvey Nash and KPMG survey.


“Organisations are seeing the role of the CIO change from the ‘purveyor of technology’ to the ‘agent of change’ for the enterprise,” the report, which surveyed CIOs from several different industries, stated. “IT organisations have largely cracked the problem of service quality and reliability, freeing up their leaders to take a wider role.”

This wider role does not necessarily mean that CIOs are neglecting their technology responsibilities, the report explained.

“What we are seeing is the development of a ‘long tail’ of other priorities,” the survey showed. “CIO responsibilities seem to be spilling out of their traditional technology remit.”

While priorities such as increasing operational efficiency (57 percent), improving business processes (56 percent), and delivering stable and consistent IT performance (51 percent) remained top CIO priorities, others have also started to emerge.

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Thirty-eight percent of respondents prioritize better consumer engagement. This is visible in the healthcare industry as more organizations enlist strong patient engagement strategies to improve value-based care.

Forty percent prioritize driving revenue growth, while 44 percent prioritize improving business processes.

According to KPMG healthcare technology leader Vince Vickers, these industry-wide initiatives and regulations are major drivers of CIO priorities.

"Healthcare organizations are continuously confronted with new regulatory challenges and evolving business models that are forcing them to change the way they think about leveraging technology toward the cloud and digital labor that can change how work is done," Vickers said in a press release. "All of this is putting more pressure on CIOs to quickly and effectively sort through the best new technologies and implement them to engage patients and deliver greater efficiency.”

The changing role of the CIO is seen in these individuals’ growing leadership positions. In addition to acting as hospital CIOs, 57 percent of these professionals old board member seats. This is up from 50 percent in 2014 and from 42 percent in 2010.

According to the researchers, this shows that CIOs have a wider influence in overall practice affairs. They are not just involved in implementing and managing technology initiatives, but are bringing their expertise to other projects aimed at improve the practice as a whole. As healthcare technology continues to grow, it is likely that it will play a larger role in overall practice improvement.

As CIO roles shift, professionals are seeing different success rates with different projects. While technology professionals are still best at health IT rollout projects, their success rates have dropped 12.5 percent in the past three years.

CIOs are seeing growing success with moving health data to the cloud and managing new organization websites, the survey showed.

As the technology sector continues to grow and influence hospital business processes, CIOs are wearily looking at the talent pool.

Sixty-five percent of CIOs reportedly believe a lack of talent will bar their organization from growing in coming years. In 2013, only 45 percent of CIOs thought this.

Big data analytics and health IT security skills are growing in demand in 2016. Thirty-six percent of respondents said they wanted more talent managing big data analytics, while 23 percent said they wanted security talent.

This is likely due to the fact that healthcare organizations are at the forefront of managing electronic health data on their EHRs.

Additionally, the healthcare industry has seen an influx in health data security events, such as data breaches and ransomware hacks, highlighting a need for better security mechanisms. Thus far in 2016, there have been 250 hacking incidents affecting at least 500 individuals, according to the Office for Civil Rights.

CIOs are continuously turning to digital strategies for practice improvement, the report shows.

“Our recent surveys clearly demonstrate that organisations are seeking to get a better handle on digital disruption,” the report said. “The number of IT leaders reporting an enterprise-wide digital business vision and strategy increased to 35 per cent, a 28 per cent jump from last year”

Overall, the shifting survey results demonstrate the changes in the technology sector, the report concluded. This is a reflection of the positive growth technology has seen, and the way it has shaped business strategy and professional roles.

“The hopeful optimism that returned two years ago has turned out to be well founded. Budgets are growing, and many organisations are expending boundless amounts of energy looking for new ways to embrace the digital revolution enhancing the way they interact with customers, suppliers and all manner of stakeholders,” the report concluded.

“Indeed, the only constant element we have seen over the years in our industry is the relentlessness of change. And that is sure to continue.”

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