As healthcare IT evolves, so do organizations and the responsibilities of physician leaders (Part 2)

As healthcare organizations strive to adapt and survive in the ever-changing environment jolted by the Affordable Care Act, we’re seeing indirect effects in executive recruitment. In this two-part series, we’ll tackle:


  • The evolution of the CMIO role in the past five years; what healthcare organizations now look for in candidates

  • Characteristics of new-age CMIOs


  • How physicians interested in IT (and those who already are CMIOs) can grow their knowledge and skills  


Tech-savvy physicians who enjoy strategizing; collaborating; influencing; bridging constituents; improving patient outcomes, as well as quality and safety; applying analytics; and favorably impacting the health of their communities should consider moving their career compasses toward a CMIO role.  

Unfortunately, there is stigma associated with physicians and their specialty. For example, primary care physicians in internal and family medicine are perceived to be more relevant than physicians in most subspecialties. Mostly due to the primary care physician being the bread and butter of physician organizations and healthcare systems. Don’t let this be a distraction. It’s important we all maintain focus on the candidate and their experience with IT vs. his/her subspecialty so as to not fall victim to stereotypes.  

Association membership and coursework 

Due to the knowledge and networking opportunities to be gained from being a member (among other perks), consider joining the American Association of Physician Leadership (formerly called the American College of Physician Executives), American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems (AMDIS), College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), and/or Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMMS).   

CHIME and AMDIS announced in 2014 a reciprocal partnership intended for AMDIS to advise CHIME on physician informatics, and CHIME to offer a health IT perspective for AMDIS. One result – the CHIME/AMDIS CMIO Boot Camp, a program that takes CHIME’s Healthcare CIO Boot Camp and adds content customized for physicians to learn the skills needed to be tomorrow’s CMIO.

Additionally, certificates and programs exist for physicians interested in becoming CMIOs. For example, the American Association of Physician Leadership offers a Health IT Certificate that provides courses taught by specialists at the AMIA, Carnegie Mellon, CHIME and Dearborn Advisors.

Involvement and mentoring 

Physicians interested in becoming CMIOs should participate in informatics-related projects within their organizations. Not only will this gesture provide first-hand experience for potential CMIOs, but also increase visibility of potential candidates within organizations. Even better would be for a physician to become involved in IT projects that impact service line(s), or for a physician to inherit one or two CMIO components, such as informatics. 

There is great value in being mentored by a CMIO. Organizations should encourage more of these types of relationships inasmuch as interested physicians should jump at the opportunities. Some associations also offer mentoring to their membership.   As the IT and medical landscape continue to evolve, more avenues will undoubtedly be created to prepare our next generations of CMIOs. These can include updated medical school curricula, as well as residencies as fellowships with IT/Informatics rotations.