The role of the chief information officer in healthcare organizations is changing because the industry has changed. Before the electronic health record meaningful use program began, CIOs were plumbers plugging the leaks of legacy information systems. When meaningful use came, CIOs became project managers as electronic records and supporting applications were selected, implemented and went live.

Now in the era of value-based care, population health management, artificial intelligence and other innovations, CIOs are becoming optimizers and process improvement specialists and need a new skill, which is digital transformation, says David Higginson, CIO at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

During an educational session at HIMSS 18, Higginson and Jan Kimpen, chief medical officer at Philips Healthcare, will explain to providers and vendors how to understand what’s in the minds of CIOs and their vendors as digital transformation takes shape, and how providers and vendors can best connect with and resonate with CIOs and other IT professionals as their roles change.

“Here’s an example,” Higginson says. “In the past three weeks, I have been asked to go to the emergency department and evaluate ER flow and how to improve it. I spent hours watching patient flow and came up with a new flow and technology to support it, and we redesigned patient flow in the ER.”

Another example of CIO change is the relationship with vendors. In the past, Higginson had transactional relationships with vendors, selecting a product and turning it on. Now, his focus in on establishing long-term relationships, including a 15-year partnership with Philips on joint development of new technologies in the hospital with Philips employees working in the hospital, and he expects to have long-term relationships with a handful of other vendors, as well.

The final thought Higginson and Kimpen want to leave with the audience is the need to explore the current and future roles of CIOs so that CIOs, providers and vendors have a better understanding each other’s roles and how to best work with each other.

Session 81, “Insights into the changing role and priorities of the CIO,” is scheduled at 2:30 on March 6 in room Palazzo K.

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