Here are some recent questions that I have received from health system CIO candidates, along with the answers that reflect my best advice.
1. I am a finalist in a CIO search for a large not-for profit health system. What can I expect as far as relocation assistance?
Most non-profit hospitals or health systems will offer the cost of moving household goods. They may ask you to obtain three bids from different moving companies, or they may ask you to use one they recommend. In some cases, they may offer a lump sum sign-on bonus to cover all moving costs and incidentals. They may offer temporary housing for a negotiated length of time, such as three to six months. If you have problems selling a house, you can ask for a longer term of temporary housing and/or a stipend to cover travel back and forth. Ask for realtor referrals and to have one or two trips to visit properties. If you have unusual items to move, such as a boat or several horses, be sure they know your specific situation. Also be sure to work out relocation assistance during offer negotiations, and have the details included in the offer letter.
2. What skills and attributes are most desirable now for a health system CIO, and is an advanced degree needed?
Hospitals and health systems are looking for a wide range of skills and backgrounds in a CIO, here are some qualifications that are most desired right now.
- Ten plus years in health care IT leadership and management roles
- Integration experience of multiple sites, process redesign and change management skills
- Clinical, direct patient care and informatics backgrounds
- Successful track record implementing an EMR and CPOE
- Strategic and operational experience in similar type/size organization
- Superior communication skills, with speaking and publishing experience
Yes, an advanced degree from an accredited college or university can be advantageous in this competitive marketplace, and can be required, especially at academic medical centers and large IDNs.
3. My CIO position was abruptly eliminated after a merger, how do I explain the change to future employers, and prevent any gaps on my resume?
If you are laid off or let go suddenly, the best way to explain that change is to tell the truth. You need to practice exactly what you will say to prospective employers or recruiters and be consistent in your message. Be clear and concise in your message and, if you need to, write it down as a script. Abrupt changes in employment can happen to anyone, view it as an opportunity to move on, and don’t fall victim to criticizing your previous employer. You should change your resume and put an end date for employment. Consider doing “independent consulting” as you look for a new opportunity – that is an excellent transition job to put on your resume.
I look forward to sharing future CIO questions and answers with you next month. Feel free to send me any questions anonymously to [email protected], and I will share my responses with healthsystemCIO.com readers.