A chief information officer spearheads the operational activities in relation to Information Technology within a healthcare setting. Infact, a healthcare CIO has to take in stride all the challenges that the Information Technology unit of a health care organization encounters on a routine basis- right from supervising and structuring data entry and analysis and laying down the rules and regulations for effective handling of data to working in conjunction with vendors and contractors to develop and enhance IT tools, crafting the IT budget and collaborating with other bigwigs of the organization for its greater good.
However, these days, the responsibility of a healthcare CIO is much more than just overseeing and controlling the IT operations for a particular organization. In some organizations, the onus of managing its supply-chain and group purchasing is usually on the health care information officer. The role of a CIO is gradually evolving and expanding with more and more information officers foraying into areas related to biomedical engineering, imaging equipment management, performance evaluation process redesign etc.
Ideally, a healthcare CIO is a multi-tasker, adeptly juggling his priorities and delivering top-notch results within compressed timelines. He is also a multidimensional communicator, who is vocal about the issues and concerns of his immediate team, effectively explaining the broader strategic agendas to them at the same time. Organizational culture and individual background are also equally responsible for the changes that are creeping into the role of a healthcare CIO.
A chief information officer must be a peoples’ person, blending effortlessly with his team, as he steps into the role of a manager. He also has to have hands-on experience in both health care as well as business administration. He should be adept at crafting comprehensive training programs for the in-house IT professionals, while seamlessly handling and maintaining production levels, personnel records and other relevant documentation. A healthcare CIO has to shoulder the responsibility of managing even the minutest and most mundane aspects of a multifaceted IT program that includes but is not limited to teleconferencing, office automation, internet and imaging.
In larger hospital or health care set-ups, a chief information officer takes several subordinates under his wing. They ensure the effective and efficient functioning of the IT programs under the tutelage and strict supervision of their seasoned healthcare CIO, who primarily acts as a liaison between the top management and other departmental managers. Though the global spending on health care IT has fallen for the last couple of years, the health IT industry is certainly looking up. Despite financial crunch, they are much better-off, career-wise, at the moment because of the difficult compromises they made, during recession. Some health care IT projects faced inordinate delays, but things are back to normal for health care CIOs with a variety of stimulus incentives in place.
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