The many hats of the healthcare CIO

By Naomi Diaz for Becker’s Hospital Review

The role of a healthcare CIO has transcended its traditional boundaries, presenting both increased responsibility and exciting opportunities in 2024.

“Serving as a healthcare CIO in 2024 comes with greater responsibility, yes, but also exciting opportunity,” Saad Chaudhry, chief digital and information officer of Annapolis, Md.-based Luminis Health, told Becker’s. “Since technology underpins nearly every operational function of a health system, CIOs now have a definitive seat at the executive leadership table. However, unlike other C-suite roles focused on specific domains, our role stretches across them all.”

According to Mr. Chaudhry, the COVID-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst, accelerating the imperative for executives outside of IT to gain fluency in the diverse systems that power a health system’s operations. 

“With remote work and digital transformation rising out of necessity, CFOs, CHROs, CMOs, CNOs and others had to partner more closely with CIOs to understand and leverage the technology powering their departments and functions,” he said. “This, consequently, evolved the CIO role further.” 

Effective CIO leadership today, according to Mr. Chaudhry, requires deeper knowledge of workflows, operations and supply chain across the health system than it ever did before. It is also requiring CIOs to wear the “hats” of their C-suite peers to fulfill their roles effectively. 

“That makes this a tough role as it requires a leader who, while anchored in technology, understands the clinical and operational side of the business well,” he said. “It should come as no surprise then, that this elevated role brings with it increased accountability. No longer is our digital foundation limited to maintaining technology infrastructure — it has now evolved to the marriage between technical platforms and the operational workflows associated with them within new, more modern venues of care.”

Looking ahead, Mr. Chaudhry sees the scope of accountability for the modern healthcare CIO to expand further, especially as innovative provider organizations take shape. 

Initiatives like General Catalyst’s HATCo venture and Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente’s Risant signal a new era, where CIOs will play a pivotal role in shaping the intersection between technology and the operational frameworks of cutting-edge care venues, he said.

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