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New and expanding roles in healthcare IT leadership

Pamela Wagner
Pamela Wagner, Associate, Witt/Kieffer’s Information Technology practice
beth nelson
Beth Nelson, Consultant, Witt/Kieffer’s Healthcare Practice

The considerable merger and acquisition activity occurring across healthcare today is creating varied and different new executive opportunities. Within the health IT space alone, several new leadership positions have cropped up in recent years or gained significantly more prominence than in the past.

Today’s consolidating and expanding health systems must gauge whether and how they will integrate these health IT roles into their executive mix – and whether to recruit individuals for all or just a few. Meanwhile, IT executives themselves must survey the new landscape to see which evolving roles they are best suited for or might grow into.

With this in mind, allow us to describe five elevated or newly created IT roles within today’s growing health systems, including expectations for the positions that we have been hearing from organizations we work with in recruiting health IT executives.

  • Chief Technology Officer: There is a real need now, more than ever, to design and develop solid and reliable infrastructures that will give health systems the ability to share patient data across large populations. As systems become larger and often multi-state in size, the need for effective transmission of data across the enterprise and into individual state health information exchanges makes this role more complex and critical than ever. Advanced degrees and ITIL or other process certifications are becoming highly preferred.
  • Chief Information Security Officer: With the amount of patient data accumulated and stored within today’s health systems, providing a secure infrastructure and network has become a critical priority. Transmission of sensitive patient data across large systems and to patients and clinicians requires a new level of security expertise and awareness when tracking both internal and external data share. Prior technical leadership coupled with advanced degrees and security certifications such as the CISSP or CISM have become necessary components of the CISO role.
  • Enterprise Data Warehouse / Business Intelligence Officer: Industry consolidation has also served as a catalyst for big data warehousing and reporting, another area of much needed expansion. Allowing departments and facilities that have been siloed in the past, especially in the research field, to share valuable information with the medical field is critical to improving overall population health. Information sharing can and will result in more clinical trials and more personalized medicine, thus improving overall health and wellness. Advanced degrees and experience in healthcare data warehousing and management are prerequisites for the ideal candidate.
  • VP/SVP of Revenue Cycle: This role is critical in successfully aligning the business needs of an organization with an ability to provide effective healthcare across large areas, locally and statewide. In the case of a multi-state merger process, proper tracking and reporting are even more critical to ensuring both quality and compliance for reimbursement. Candidates with advanced degrees in IT and finance with multi-site healthcare exposure are highly desired for this position.
  • Chief Medical Informatics Officer: While this title has been in existence for a number of years, growing health systems are in need of IT professionals with prior or existing clinical backgrounds. Knowing how to translate and direct proper patient data and imaging within and outside of a system most often requires prior clinical exposure as a pharmacist, RN, or MD, coupled with a Masters in the Informatics area. Certification and participation in AMIA, ANIA and other informatics-related organizations are also highly desirable.

Another factor driving the growth of these health IT executive positions is the completion of electronic health record implementations. EHRs are moving into optimization mode. This trend facilitates more technically sophisticated and secure movement of data across the continuum of care, which can lead to a new age of collaboration, prevention and cure. The ultimate goal of delivering higher-quality patient care is within reach, but only if a new breed of IT executives is in place to make it happen.

[Editor’s note: This article was originally published on Witt/Kieffer’s Witt & Wisdom blog. Permission to reprint has been granted.]

Business Intelligence Officer, chief information security officer, Chief Medical Informatics Officer, Chief Technology Officer, leadership, Witt/Kieffer