HIMSS/Physician IT Symposium: Role of CMIO matures
LAS VEGAS—The role of the CMIO has grown from a group of self-proclaimed computer geeks of a dozen or so a decade ago to hundreds of health IT leaders motivated by the need for greater data understanding and communication who today lead IT implementation and optimization projects, according to William F. Bria, MD, CMIO of Shriners Hospital for Children in Tampa, Fla., who led a discussion at the Physician IT Symposium on Feb. 21.

The process of patient care has elevated greatly over time, he noted, to the nods of the four dozen CMIOs who participated in the discussion. The initial focus on health IT implementation has matured today into strategies to improve the user experience as well as improve point of care knowledge to enable real-time decisions.

In parallel, the role of the CMIO has evolved from one of simply hoping to survive, to a key stakeholder and strategic partner in enterprise health IT decision-making. CMIOs are redesigning the process of care, enabling great efficiency and cost savings across the care continuum.

In this evolution of the role has come the need for new skills, Bria points out. “The comfort level in the next generation [of CMIOs], will be vastly better than the previous 15 to 20 years.” And the evolution will continue, with the American Board of Preventive Medicine expected next year to officially define the needs for the CMIO via board certification, as well as grandfathering in those currently active in the role. (More details are expected late this year.)

Yet, Bria urged that the CMIO is not so much an established path, but one that needs to be crafted job by job and health system by health system. “See one, do one, you are one,” Bria noted, calling the CMIO a grass-roots career.

Also changing, escalating in fact, is the role and value of the CMIO in most healthcare organizations, the group agreed. By a show of hands, CMIOs hold a place at the strategic decision-making table, often presenting the health IT plan, heavy with analytics, to key hospital boards and urging the need to meet the goals of better patient care and reduced costs. CMIOs earn value and get the attention of health system leadership using data that enable smarter financial decisions, one CMIO noted.

Another CMIO paralleled the development of the CMIO to that of the chief quality officer. The common factor is quality of care, with CMIOs driving process redesign and the transition to an automated environment to enable consistent metrics of performance across the organization.

Bria and other CMIOs urged their colleagues to construct alliances for data mining, the key to better clinical and financial decision-making. “Jump in with both feet. Put your heart in patient care, not in the latest technology,” Bria said.

The Physician IT Symposium is an annual meeting hosted by the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems (AMDIS), which runs concurrently with the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual conference.