Five Risks of Hiring the Wrong CIO in Healthcare

As healthcare delivery, reimbursement models, and technology change, the role of a Chief Information Officer (CIO) in a hospital or healthcare organization becomes increasingly important. The CIO used to be thought of as  responsible for keeping an organization’s computers going, but today, the CIO role is a leader who’s responsible for protecting the organization against unknown threats and positioning it competitively.

Hiring the wrong person as the CIO in a healthcare organization can introduce risks that have far-reaching implications for patient care, organizational operations, data security, and more. Here, we highlight five key risks that healthcare organizations will face if they put the wrong person in the CIO role.

Mismanaging Organizational Resources

Mismanaging information and technology resources, both human and tools, can have significant downstream effects in healthcare organizations. For example, on the human side, weak leaders will struggle to:

  • assure that teams stay cohesive
  • recruit new talent into the organization
  • retain top talent even in the face of technology evolution.

 Now more than ever, healthcare organizations cannot afford to be without executive technology leaders who can formulate a big picture strategy  aligned with business objectives and create a plan that drives their strategy forward.

Alternatively, mismanaging technology or organizational infrastructure can also put a healthcare organization at a competitive disadvantage. A perfect example comes in the form of AI, which will be a growing priority of healthcare technology executives for the foreseeable future.

“As hospitals begin leveraging the massive amounts of data they have, AI is going to find previously unnoticed patterns related to social determinants of health and environmental effects on diseases.” Jocelyn Clarke, Assistant Vice President of Executive Search Services, Kirby Bates Associates

Right now, healthcare systems need to build the right teams and have the right infrastructure in place in order to remain industry leaders. Having the wrong CIO in place can make it harder to reach those strategic goals.

Poor Responses to Crises and Emergencies

If a CIO and their team mismanages systems or data, it could have dire consequences for a healthcare organization. Total system outages could force providers to promptly pivot to writing orders on paper, or put patient safety at risk.

On the other hand, the right CIO can make the difference in emergencies. COVID-19 provided a perfect example of this. In healthcare systems and hospitals across the country, skilled CIOs helped turn a crisis into an opportunity by rapidly advancing strategic plans to implement telehealth initiatives.

With the wrong CIO in place, many organizations were unable to make the switch successfully or compliantly.

Missing Opportunities for Innovation

Because of the highly-regulated nature of healthcare, technology within the industry has traditionally moved at a slower pace than in other industries such as  finance. However, technology in healthcare is moving faster than ever, so much so that the title CIO is almost an outdated title. It might be more fittingly replaced by executive technology leadership, as healthcare CIOs are increasingly focused on leveraging the data they have been collecting for years. 

As organizations start to parse through the mountains of data they’ve collected, the discoveries they make will drive revolutions in the healthcare industry that are currently beyond imagination. A CIO who isn’t thinking ahead or identifying ways to adopt emerging technology could stifle the organization’s ability to stay at the leading edge of healthcare.

Inadequate Data Security

As healthcare organizations get smarter and smarter, they need to reckon with the fact that malicious actors are also getting smarter. A CIO should recognize that they need a team of specialists to protect the organization’s and patients’ data from outsiders.

If you have the wrong CIO in place and they fail to give data security the attention it requires, your organization could fall victim to breaches leading to regulatory fines, ransoms that financially destabilize the organization and put patients, and the bottom line, at risk.

Damaging The Organization’s Reputation

Having the wrong CIO in place can not only put your organization at risk, it can create dangerous situations for patients. For example, if a system the OR depends on goes down, it needs to be fixed immediately. In cases like this, CIOs may need to pull all-nighters just like a CNO would during clinical emergency situations.

If your CIO doesn’t have the clinical mindset that’s necessary in healthcare, it could damage your organization’s reputation. As a result, fewer patients might come your way, physicians might make fewer referrals, and healthcare talent could be hesitant to join your organization. And those are things that no healthcare delivery system can afford right now.

Find the Right CIO for Your Healthcare Organization

As the healthcare industry enters a pivotal period, having the right executive technology leadership in place can help secure your organization’s ability to compete. However, with the unique needs of the healthcare CIO role, it’s harder than ever to find the right candidates.

Engaging a healthcare executive search firm can help you navigate the CIO recruitment process with ease, assuring your organization has the right technology talent to lead your organization into the future of healthcare.

Kirby Bates Associates’ collaborative approach to executive recruiting and customized support deliver exceptional quality and timely results. Our team of industry-renowned executive recruiters can identify the best candidates on and off the market to fill  your role and meet your organization’s needs.

If your organization is hiring for the CIO role, you need the best candidates possible. Kirby Bates Associates’ healthcare executive recruiters can help you find them.

To learn more, contact our team today!