Chief medical information officers (CMIO), sometimes called directors of medical or health informatics, are a fairly new addition to the healthcare industry, but they are already in high demand, as the healthcare industry transitions to electronic medical records (EMR).
Federal mandates in recent years stipulated that all medical and healthcare providers that bill Medicaid and Medicare must prove “meaningful use” of EMR technology or face serious reimbursement penalties. The purpose of the mandate was twofold: to establish a nationwide electronic health records system that will improve patient outcomes and reduce medical costs, while simultaneously stimulating the U.S. economy.
Nationwide electronic health records (EHR) contain a more comprehensive network of patient histories than electronic medical records, which cover patient histories with just one provider. Fully interoperable EHRs remain a long-term project.
CMIO Job Description
A CMIO’s duties may vary from one organization to the next. However, most CMIOs are practicing physicians or IT professionals with specialized training, and their responsibilities reflect their dual areas of expertise. On a regular basis, the average CMIO may:
- Evaluate an organization’s IT systems
- Design and apply EMR/EHR software and applications
- Convert and analyze medical and health data
- Insure quality of care across multiple information systems
- Leverage medical and health data to improve services and daily operations
- Train physicians and other medical professionals in IT systems and applications, especially EMR/EHR and computerized physician order entry (CPOE)
CMIOs, depending on their individual areas of expertise and training, may also conduct data analytics for research purposes and report findings to other executives, government agencies, or scholarly institutions.
The preeminent source of employment and salary data in the nation, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), has yet to publish precise data on the health informatics employment subsector. As it becomes available, these data will be added to this site.
The BLS projects a 20% rate of growth in employment opportunities for medical and health services managers and a 13% rate of growth for medical records and health information technicians between 2016 and 2026. Both of these figures represent growth rates faster than the average for all other occupations. While neither figure should be taken as directly representative of the market for CMIOs, they do attest to the surge in opportunities for qualified health IT candidates as a whole.
The salary of a Chief Medical Information Officer with a graduate degree in Health Informatics will vary based on a number of factors such as physical location, education, the type of healthcare facility and the exact scope of the job, for example. As this is an emerging field, the U.S. Department of Labor has not yet published salary data for this profession.
According to a 2016 study by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) – a prominent professional organization in health IT – the annual median salary of a Health Information Executive/President/Vice President is $149,970.
The Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), another prominent organization in health IT, concluded that members of executive management (such as CMIOs) earn an average salary of $196,472 in their 2015 Salary Survey.
Education and Training
Formerly, Chief Medical Information Officer candidates were required to present a bachelor’s degree in IT or a related field and possess significant experience in medicine, at minimum. Often, employers showed preference to candidates with advanced degrees, such as a master’s degree in health informatics. For those looking to transition into the field, USF Health also offers a Graduate Certificate in Health Informatics.
Many universities are also adding master’s degree programs in health informatics, which make an ideal investment for the IT professional ready to broaden his or her career prospects and transition into one of the fastest-growing fields in the country.
The survey also reports that CMIOs are enjoying greater involvement in organizational strategy, including capital expenditures. This trend is attributed to long-term relationships: The majority of respondents transitioned to CMIO status without seeking a new employer.
It would appear that the list of reasons for medical professionals to pursue careers in health informatics is growing almost as fast as the field itself. If you are interested in a career in this quickly emerging field, consider a certificate program or master’s degree in health informatics from the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine at the University of South Florida.