The CMIO Quick Start Guide is a series of posts on the role that the Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO) plays within an organization. As the number of healthcare organizations pondering the addition of a CMIO to their staff increases, it’s vital that every organization understand the benefits of hiring a CMIO, what they’ll actually do once they’re hired, and how you can expect them to improve your operation. Over the next few weeks, we’ll cover these topic and how you should bring one on to your team to ensure mutual success. Stay tuned for a new post every Tuesday.
In last week’s post, we discussed what a CMIO is, how they’re different from a CIO, what kind of background they come from, and how they bridge the gap between providers and IT professionals.
In this week’s post, we’ll get into if a CMIO may be a good fit for your organization and how to determine if you’re ready for one (Hint: you just may be).
Why Should You Hire a CMIO?
Just because someone said that CMIOs are “so hot right now” is not a reason to go out and spend a lot of money on a new executive position.
We know you’re smarter than that, so if you’ve been tossing around the idea of hiring a CMIO, let’s refine why you may need one in the first place. Once we refine the “why” and discover your expectations, we’ll discuss what you need to have in place before posting the opening internally or externally, and how your Unique Selling Proposition can bring in the right candidate for your organization.
For Growing Organizations
Growing healthcare organizations typically already have some IT systems in place but may be suffering from growing pains and lack of physician adoption for some of their more crucial systems. Do any of the following scenarios resonate with you?
- Does your leadership lack visibility into IT? Does IT beat around the bush when explaining current and future projects to the board and/or physicians?
- Are your doctors fed up with their IT systems? Do they feel like their grievances are rarely responded to, if not flat-out ignored?
- Is your strategic plan for clinical IT poorly defined? Are requirements that touch clinicians assumed or even determined by IT without physician input?
- Are your workflows convoluted or rarely defined? Does each department have a significantly different set of workflows? Maybe even whole IT systems?
- Are you unaware of the ongoing and upcoming projects that IT has on their plate? Do you know how any of them will affect their stakeholders?
For Mature Organizations
- Are most of your providers utilizing your EHR or other clinical systems, but you still have quite a few laggards refusing to use?
- Have your workflows and processes been defined, but no one knows where to go from there?
- Have you been putting off a big clinical/technical change because you don’t know who will manage it?
- Do major procurements take a long time because of communications difficulties between all the stakeholders?
If you answered yes to any of the above, you may be wise to bring on a CMIO. There are likely some gaps that need to be filled between your stakeholders and your IT team that can be mended by someone who speaks both the IT and clinical languages.
For All Organizations
As with any executive hire, making sure your expectations are clear before you enter into a (hopefully) long-term agreement with the CMIO is critical to yours and theirs success. Before sending out the position description to HR, make sure you understand the CMIO position and:
- What will they accomplish short-term? Long-term?
- Who will they report to?
- How often are they expected to be physically in the office?
- Will they come from inside or outside the organization?
- How will they be compensated?
- When do you expect their first day will be?
Requirements for Hiring a CMIO
In addition to clear expectations and a true need for the position, there are some other requirements you need to have in place before starting your search for the perfect candidate. We’ve outlined some must haves, nice to haves, and some items that are icing on the cake when planning for your new exec.
- $$$ for their salary
- $$$/time for the candidate search
- Buy-in from the CEO, Board of Advisors, and the CIO
- A clear goal for the CMIO to reach or a major problem that needs solving
Nice to Haves
- Dedicated staff to work with the CMIO
- Budget for the CMIO to spend within their role
- A clear reporting structure and bonus structure (if needed)
Icing on the Cake
- Perks such as $$$ for CMIO to attend gatherings where other CMIOs are present
- Who the major points of contacts for all IT systems are, as well as points of contact for those on the clinical side so they can feel out the organization
- Telecommuting/remote work agreements
“Selling” the CMIO Position
We hate to break it to you, but you’re probably not going to be the only one offering your top candidate a position on your staff. Many potential CMIOs will have multiple offers on the table and highly visible candidates will probably have recruiters calling them at least once a week about “potential opportunities”. So how can you break free and set yourself apart from the other organizations out there?
First, Be Honest
Have you ever ordered something off the phone or online thinking that it its going to finally solve that really annoying problem you’ve been having, only be to disappointed because it is not as described? I would bet after opening the package and using the product, you are not only disappointed but you now have to go through the hassle of calling customer service and trying to return your item? Sucks, right? You wish they were honest up-front about what you’re actually getting.
We’d liken this to accepting a job as a CMIO, or to even hiring one.
In hiring a CMIO, the honesty policy applies to both potential employer and potential employee. Similar to deceiving product descriptions, no one likes to be lured in under false pretenses.
If you tell your candidate that everything is rosy in your organization, your systems are nicely integrated and your staff is happy and works well together and they accept your offer under those expectations, don’t be surprised when they rush for the exit a couple months later. Because if it turns out there are actually huge political divides, botched integrations and implementations, and a general feeling of dissatisfaction for the organization’s future, the exit is where they’ll be running…not walking…towards.
While a little trickier for the employer, the candidate should also be open about their expectations and experiences. We’ll go over this a little bit more in detail in next week’s post.
Second, Determine your Unique Selling Proposition
In sales, a USP, or Unique Selling Proposition is what sets you and your organization apart from your competitors. Apple’s USP is its aesthetic and functional design, Amazon’s USP is its selection and speedy delivery, and Wal-Mart’s USP is its low prices. When competing for customers (or in this case, potential CMIOs) you’ll have to offer them something unique to get them to buy (or sign-up) with you. Determining your USP may be tricky or it may be obvious. Here are some examples we thought of that may have unique appeal to your candidates:
- Are you going to be building a new hospital or clinic somewhere? What CMIO wouldn’t enjoy planning clinical IT systems from the ground up instead of inheriting a mismanaged system?
- Is your team comprised of the best in the world? Is the culture something they like to brag about?
- Could they get involved in research that is near and dear to their hearts?
- Does your location in sunny San Diego (or other desirable locale) appeal to them?
- Will they have a team that will help them in accomplishing their goals?
- Will they have a budget to make their own approved purchases for software, hardware, team gatherings, etc?
- Will they be able to work from home one day a week? Work extra time from M-Th so they can have Fridays off?
- If they would like to, will they be able to continuing practicing medicine while meeting CMIO duties?
That’s just a short list of possible USPs. For more on USPs, check out this post from fizzle.
Now that you have all your ducks in a row for bringing on a CMIO, your next step will be finding and scoping out your ideal candidate. Check back next week to find how to find, vet, and bring on your ideal CMIO.