What do health system CIOs need in their background to succeed? Let me share some insight.
It is rare to be a health system CIO without any college degree. While some have been lucky and very successful, most health systems require a Bachelor’s degree with an advanced degree preferred or required. In a competitive CIO search, those candidates with an advanced degree will have an edge. The Masters of Business Administration degree continues to be a leading post-secondary degree, but an online degree of Masters in Health Informatics is growing in popularity. You should only pursue degrees from accredited colleges and universities, and beware of diploma mills and unaccredited online colleges and universities.
What experiences can lead to becoming a successful health system CIO? There are many paths.
- Mixture of vendor, consulting and provider experience
- Physician/nurse/other patient care background
- Military healthcare and/or IT experience
- Health administration or other C-suite experience
- Technical or programming background, revenue and clinical system implementations
- Non-healthcare experience from banking, manufacturing, other industries
- Exposure to all types/sizes of hospitals/health systems including academic medical centers, large complex IDNs, and community hospitals
- Outsource and in-source experience
- Strategic and business knowledge
- Multiple EMR/CPOE vendor experience and knowledge
Management and interpersonal skills
Having the hard skills (learned and non-innate) are important for CIOs, but being able to manage and deal with all levels of people in a constantly changing healthcare IT environment is still a requirement. Being able to manage managers and large complex teams will set you apart and being excellent in the following soft skills will ensure your success:
- Ability to deal with change
- Ability to market new ideas
- Ability to partner
- Communication skills
- Listening skills
- Politically savvy
- Sense of humor
The path to a successful CIO career can have many twists and turns, so it’s critical you continually build your education and experiences – that way, you’ll always have a winning background.