Top Trends In CIO Salaries, Titles, And Credentials

Bonnie R. Siegel, Partner, Sanford Rose Associates

The evolution of the CIO position in healthcare has been amazing to watch. I have been fortunate to interview hospital or health system “CIOs” in some form of either research or recruiting work for many years. Here are some key facts from a select group of health system CIOs who responded to a recent SRA survey. Their backgrounds reflect the current state of the CIO position.

CIO titles
“CIO” titles varied amongst the survey participants. 64 percent have achieved VP or higher level in their organization. Based on varied responsibilities, one of the CIOs mentioned also holding a CEO title, while another is Vice Chancellor too. Here were the main titles mentioned:

  • 50 percent hold the title of Vice President-Chief Information Officer
  • 34 percent have the CIO title without being a vice president
  • 10 percent have the Senior Vice President/CIO title
  • 4 percent have the Executive Vice President/CIO title
  • 2 percent hold an AVP CIO title

CIO education, certifications

The survey participants reflected the increased importance of having an advanced degree and/or healthcare IT certifications as part of their backgrounds. 68 percent of the CIO respondents have received an advanced degree.

  • 34 percent have a master’s degree (MS, MA, MHA, MHS, and MHP)
  • 30 percent have an MBA
  • 4 percent have an MD or PhD

Healthcare information technology certifications and credentials were important to this group of CIOs.

  • 42 percent have achieved the CHIME CIO certification – CHCIO
  • 36 percent have the CPHIMS certification
  • 23 percent are HIMSS Fellows – FHIMSS
  • 10 percent are Fellows at CHIME – FCHIME

CIOs unique backgrounds and experiences
The CIO respondents mentioned some of the unique characteristics of their backgrounds and experiences which included:

  • Military experience
  • Vendor, consulting and provider background
  • Health administration
  • Clinical background as a physician or nurse
  • Financial and revenue cycle background
  • Management consulting
  • Banking and manufacturing
  • Technical and programming
  • Business and marketing

CIO salaries rising
According to the recent SRA Health System CIO Survey, the average base salary of healthcare CIOs has increased from $208k in 2008 to over $221k in 2011. Here are further breakdowns of base salaries.

  • Single hospital systems — $197,182
  • Two hospital systems — $232,866
  • Three+ hospital systems — $246,640
  • The highest base salary was $400,000, and the lowest was $125,000

I hope this new data will give you some insights into health system CIO backgrounds, as reflected by the group who responded to the survey. If you have any questions, please let me know.


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  1. mcclunge says:

    Bonnie, was there a significant % that had indicated they had obtained PMP certification?

  2. Hi Eric, thanks for the question. Less than five percent of the CIOs surveyed in 2010 and 2011 had the PMP certification. I am guessing that many of their IT staff would be PMP certified. The most significant growth in certification for CIOs has been the CPHIMS certification; it was four percent in 2010 and jumped to 36 percent in 2011.

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