With a majority of health systems more integrated than ever through the use of electronic health records, the role of the Chief Medical Information Officer is expanding from its position as the clinician information systems liaison to that of a data leader.

Many CMIOs are now looked to as analytics experts--using robust data warehouses developed over the last few years to do everything from enhancing quality of care, predicting staffing needs, and improving financial performance.

As one CMIO recently put it, “He who controls the data is king.” The statement has never been truer as the healthcare market becomes increasingly complex with information now being shared across health information exchanges, accountable care organizations, clinically integrated networks, and across increasingly consolidated health systems.

It is more apparent that there needs to be a leader that understands both the technical infrastructure and the nuances of patient care. A strong, visionary CMIO can be the difference between a health system investing millions of dollars in a data warehouse that provides a few useful quality reports and one with real actionable information to move the needle of clinical care and precision medicine forward.

Data-driven CMIOs in healthcare must embody the traits that have been asked of analytics leaders in other industries for years while still balancing their role of clinician. The CMIO must be a politically savvy leader, capable of developing alliances across the organization and garnering a shared consensus around a strategic plan for analytics. The data-driven CMIO then needs to be the driver of that strategy. The CMIO that leads strategically will gain leverage in the C-suite as their insight becomes more valuable to organizational success.

Another indicator of the data-driven CMIO’s evolution is the scope of the teams they are now managing. A CMIO over analytics may lead fairly large teams of analysts, programmers, and other informaticians. These teams are a key piece of the strategy for health systems looking to transform their daily operations in a fee-for-value world. Building teams is no small task. A CMIO must be a proven leader in developing high-performing and complex teams and ensuring that they run smoothly.

The CMIO is becoming increasingly more focused on data and its utilization to impact patient care and value of service. To this end, many physicians are becoming certified in informatics. In these cases the leadership in the organization has determined that the investment in clinical information systems is best focused with the CMIO and clinicians in the organization actively using available data for increased quality of care.

Slideshow
30 leading CMIO experts, Part 1
Physician leaders playing important role as value-based care, analytics rise in significance.

There is support for these initiatives from the top down and interest being translated into the CMIO’s role in retrieval and utilization of information. This is demonstrated in new responsibilities in the work that the CMIO is engaged with around data, including management of analysts, programmers, and report writers that work with the data.

The procurement of data is a collaborative effort between the CMIO and the IT department. All of the pertinent data that has been poured into the EMR relative to patient information has to be retrieved and then analyzed for appropriate distribution which will impact patient care. The retrieval and analysis is an effort that involves effort from several sources including the CMIO.

Information, also, comes from the biomedical and bioinformatics research community to the CMIO for utilization in the medical arena. The data driven CMIO is a leader who focuses on using that data and predictive modeling to improve patient care. The CMIO works with his clinical colleagues to use data from all the resources to impact the quality of care and provide value of service for the organization.

Another indicator of the data-driven CMIO’s evolution is the scope of the teams they are now managing. A CMIO over analytics may lead fairly large teams of analysts, programmers, and other informaticians. These teams are a key piece of the strategy for health systems looking to transform their daily operations in a fee-for-value world. Building teams is no small task. A CMIO must be a proven leader in developing high-performing and complex teams and ensuring that they run smoothly.

Slideshow
30 leading CMIO experts, Part 2
Physician leaders are playing important roles as value-based care, analytics rise in significance.

A data-driven CMIO will also lead in the areas of research. They will continue breaking down the traditional silos across academic health systems that separated areas of study, providing an opportunity for increased collaboration among the research community with their clinically focused colleagues. This requires a leader to understand intimately the complexities of the research community and how they interface with their clinical colleagues; that is the data-driven CMIO. In a world of precision medicine where advances in patient care will come down to the DNA strand, a data-driven CMIO can act as the link in providing essential data for research and implementation.

Organizations we have assisted in recruiting data analytics expertise include health systems, hospitals and payers. They realize the importance of a leader taking siloed areas of data and convincing the stakeholders of the value to centralize to create actionable information. This role leads their organization in governance and creating reliable knowledge from what was segregated data to be utilized by finance, quality, innovation, research and clinicians; all for the purpose of improving patient care.

At the end of the day, the data-driven CMIO is more than a liaison. The data-driven CMIO is a true C-suite executive who focuses on using the technical infrastructures they have helped to develop over the past decade to lead through the use of actionable data. While the pool of analytically focused CMIOs is still relatively small, it is growing and will only continue to expand over the coming years.

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