Chief Medical Information Officer: Modern and Trendy Specialty

The market for Health informatics is touted to be one of the hottest growth sectors in USA today and some computer-savvy physicians are increasingly investigating ways to jump into the Medical informatics - Healthcare IT bandwagon .

A few years ago, Health IT spending overtook Radiology as the biggest investment that a hospital made with systems like Electronic Medical Records, Computerized Order Entry Systems and Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS). Better quality, reduced medical errors and saving administrative costs are the main reasons for the growth of the health care IT market.

A Chief Medical Information Officer, or CMIO, is a health-care professional that deals with IT departments and serves as some kind of a bridge between them and hospital or other medical organization. Sometimes CMIO may also be reffered as the director of health informatics.

A Chief Medical Information Officer may be a physician with background in medical field and interest in technology. In other cases, CMIOs are technology professionals wich have been specially trained in health informatics.

Job description of the CMIO can vary from one hospital to another, but in common cases they are responsible for:
1. designing and integrating IT systems in medical departments of the hospital;
2. analyzing the use of technology such as electronic health record (EHR) and computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems to determine its effect on patient care;
3. setting standards for the use of medical terminology;
4. training physicians on the use of necessary software, studying how the software can be effectively used and using that knowledge to influence future deployments;
5. working with senior leadership to create a strategic plan for IT department.

How to Become a Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO) in USA ?

A CMIO is not an academic position or specialty, it's an executive position with needs highly dependent on the individual hiring organization - Just like a CEO cannot plan his career academically to be a CEO !
But let's see how much we can learn. A sample job posting for a Children's hospital reads:
"The Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO) provides physician leadership to advance our clinical information systems to bring evidence-based medicine to the point of care consistent with our mission and strategy. - 20% Clinical practice, pediatric infectious disease consultant and 80% Clinical informatics leadership"
Another job posting reads:
"The Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO) provides leadership in the development of the overall clinical information technology strategy, direction on the design and implementation of clinical databases and those applications that utilize them; will educate, involve, and support physicians and other users of clinical information regarding the purposes and functions of the information system"
Note that a CMIO is not merely an IT-knowledgeable physician, but needs to have proven leadership and management skills too - hence an MBA / MHA /MMM (Master of Medical Management) along the way is highly recommended for CMIO wannabe docs.

So to become a CMIO, you would probably need these at least:

- Be a Board Certified Physician : A CMIO is a bridge between the docs and the IT side, and to have the support of docs and be their leader, you need to be a well known physician yourself
- Leadership Skills and Communication Skills
- Management Experience
- IT systems experience and / or informatics academics
- Be a member of a professional organization like the Health Information Management & Systems Society (HIMSS) and follow developments, conferences, certifications and workshops.
The CMIO is most likely to report to an organization’s chief information officer (CIO). However, depending on the structure of the management team, the CMIO may instead report to the chief executive officer (CEO), the chief operating officer (COO), the chief medical officer or the general medical officer.

What is a Salary of CMIO in USA?

Incomes and compensation data for CMIO are somewhat fuzzy at this point since it's a fairly new position - but being expected to work as a physician, base salaries commensurate with that of a physician are obvious. However, in addition, being classified as an executive position, one can expect big time bonuses dependent on performance.

Medical Informatics Fellowships Salary range from 36,000$ to 40,000$ a year for post-PhD (Non-MD) graduates and 50,000$ to 60,000$ a year for Post-Residency MD Graduates.