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Has the HITECH Act Changed the CIO's Role?

Carrie Vaughan, for HealthLeaders Media, October 27, 2009

One in five chief information officers said that they are "not very influential in senior leadership," according to our 2009 HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey for Technology Leaders. In addition only 25.23% of CEOs counted the CIO as a member of their senior executive team.

A lot has changed for CIOs since we conducted that survey last fall—namely, the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009's $20 billion investment in healthcare IT. Now there is a spotlight on technology and its role in healthcare reform. Has that changed the role of CIOs in healthcare organizations? Are more CIOs involved in senior leadership than last year? How many healthcare organizations are investing in healthcare IT in the hopes of receiving their full incentive payment as outlined in the stimulus package? These are just a few of the questions that we're striving to answer with the 2010 edition of the HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey for Technology Leaders.

What I like about this survey is that we ask some key benchmarking questions across various segments of the industry, including health insurance executives and physician leaders, as well as hospital CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, and quality leaders. So we are able to compare each group's responses and uncover any conflicting priorities or disconnects.

For example, last year we asked executives to rank the quality of their organization's information technology. Twenty-two percent of CIOs cited their organization's IT as "very strong," whereas only 13% of CEOs said their organization's IT was "very strong."

This is an exciting time for CIOs and healthcare IT. Technology is not only being talked about in strategic discussions with CEOs, CFOs, and physicians, but money is also being brought to the table. The spotlight on health IT as a tool to help improve quality and reduce costs has also placed a lot of pressure on CIOs. During the past several months, I've heard executives say that they don't want to leave one penny of stimulus dollars unclaimed. But for some organizations, the incentives are not a clear win given the amount of investment they would have to make to even come close to being "meaningful users" of certified IT.

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