Today: The 4 Healthcare CIO Archetypes
Episode 1514th August 2023 • This Week Health: Newsroom • This Week Health
00:00:00 00:16:21


Today in health, it we're going to talk about the healthcare CIO's archetypes, and you're going to help me write an article. I need your feedback. I'm going to give you some of the rough draft stuff that I'm working on. And I would love to get some comments back from you. My name is bill Russell. I'm a former CIO for a 16 hospital system and creator of this week health set of channels, dedicated to keeping health it staff current and engaged.

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All right. There are a lot of times I sit back and I think there are a handful of things that I am uniquely positioned to do for this industry. I think The reason I'm uniquely positioned to write this article is one I've been a healthcare CIO. And number two, I probably interviewed more of them than anybody else in the industry. So I've talked to a lot of them. I understand what they're working on, understand what their priorities are, understand the different ways they approach different aspects of the job. And I've been doing it now for five years and then six years prior to that being a healthcare CIO and interacting with my peers.

And one outside. That's why I think I'm uniquely positioned. Why write the article? It's interesting. A while back, I wrote an article on

The three functions of healthcare CIO. And I said the three things they must do keep the trains running on time. That is cybersecurity data center. You know, , keep things running in the health system. So it keeps the trains running. Lay new track. That is the new features, the new functions, the things that people want. So you have to.

Incrementally, put some things on. And then the final thing is to make airplanes. That is to innovate. In ways that make the old ways that we did things obsolete that could be incremental innovation. . It could be transformational

innovation where we fundamentally change. The workflows and how things operate in the health system and how we interact with patients. And so there's a lot of different ways that that gets done. I wrote that article a little while back, got a ton of feedback. It's been quoted many, many times. Five people, , either in their talks or in other articles.

I wanted to go a little farther. With it. And, , I think the value in going farther with it is to, , alleviate some misconceptions that people have, , alleviate some of the stress that's caused by people standing on a stage saying you need to be the next healthcare CIO 3.5, 5.0 10.0, whatever it happens to be. It's like, you need to be this.

, and I'm going to lay some of those myths to rest. , by looking at the archetypes and explaining why some of the archetypes. Are important for the type of health system. That they are a part of.

I think the last reason to write the article is hiring . To make sure that we match the right CIO, the right archetype for the right system. I see this happen over and over again, where a health system hires a person and they thought they were hiring a certain type of person. But in reality, they hired somebody very different. And I think by having the archetypes, they can identify what they're looking for potentially, . The right job description, instead of the cookie cutter one that's given to them by the recruiting firm.

And they can match what they need as an organization. To the person they're trying to hire.

So I have. Mm. Right now I have six archetypes. I think I'm gonna change that to four, but. This is where I'm at right now.

Okay. So the archetypes, I have our technician operator. I have changed agent and innovator, and I don't think those are archetypes. I think those are more. Temperaments or approaches and archetype. So I've technician operator, I've conductor, and then I visionary leader. Okay. So I think those are probably the four archetypes. Let me give you a little background on each one.

The technician,

If you're a single hospital or if you're a rural health system or if you're just fairly small. If your it staff is less than 25 people. Then you need a technician. You don't need a visionary leader. You don't want a visionary leader. You don't have the revenue to be a visionary leader. Somebody else, some other health system, they're going to be the visionary leader.

Your vendors are going to be visionary leaders. They're going to come to you and say, Hey, this is how you implement. Generative AI in your system and you're going to be an adopter. You're not going to transform healthcare from a place that only has 25 people on staff and a budget to match. Okay. In that spot, you need a technician CIO.

And I will tell you, one of the characteristics of a technician CIO is they have their hands on a keyboard. They could be certified on some things they could be. Certified on networking, they can be certified on security. You want those people to really understand the ins and outs of keeping the train running on time for a health system better than anybody.

They didn't have to understand , the security posture of your health system, how to protect you against ransomware, how to recover from ransomware. These people are my heroes. They have to do all the things that the large house systems do, but they have to do with a fraction of the budget and a fraction of the staff.

And they are incredibly, , talented, gifted, and creative. I don't think we should make technicians feel like they need to be the visionary leader. I think we should applaud them for what they are. I think we should allow them to go ahead and implement the great visionary stuff that other people have done once it's ready to be done by their EHR provider or their ERP solution or integrated into some workflow or other things that they have. So that's the technician.

So that's, that's that the operator. The operator's CIO is pragmatic and focused on delivering practical technology solutions that address specific needs within the healthcare organization. One of the differences between a technician and operator. A technician is absolutely focused on the functions of it. The operator steps out of that a little bit.

The operator Excel and understanding the day-to-day operations of a hospital and their technological expertise is applied to enhance the efficiency , around those workflows, patient safety and those kinds of things. So they step a little bit more into the business and understanding the workflows of healthcare and being a part of that. That's not to say that technicians can't. But technicians are mostly focused on the technology. Whereas the operators might get more involved in the day to day function of clinics and hospitals and whatnot.

All right. So they become more of a business, more. Uh, more involved in the business. The conductor is interesting to me. So, I like the conductor, another word for it is the strategist. , the strategists CIO goes beyond the technical aspects and actively participates in organizational strategy.

They understand. That technology is a tool to enable broader business schools. They work closely with other leaders in the organization to align it initiatives with several mission and objectives of the health care organization. Let me tell you one of the biggest differences and this is. And, , I had some aspects of myself of being a conductor.

It generally. We'll serve the organization. That is a broad statement, but they will generally serve the organization. Conductors can lead the organization. And here's my story for that. Essentially at one point. I went to marketing and I said, we need. Our patient personas our consumer personas.

I need to understand their journey. And it was my idea. I went to marketing and I said, Hey, this is something we need to do. They said, I don't have a budget. I said, I have budget. I can find money to do this. We can bring in a consulting firm and work with us. But we need to partner with the medical group and they agreed.

And we went, over to the, , head of the medical group and I said, I have an idea for a project and it is to map out. The, , various personas of our patients and to map out their, their patient journeys. And we started talking about what that would mean. , how we could map the technologies to the different aspects of the patient journey, so forth and so on. And they agree to it as well. We put the right group into a room. , we brought in a firm to help us to do that. And we started down that path. Conductor initiate. An operator generally is listening strong listener to the organization. It says, we need to do this thing. A technician is focused on the it operation and making sure the it operation serves the organization. I conductor is strategic. They can make things happen.

. And then finally the visionary leader. And this is the one that we talk about over and over and over again. The visionary leader, CIO operates at the intersection of technology and strategy functioning at the highest echelons of the organization.

This archetype is, deeply involved in defining the overall strategic direction of the healthcare organization. Not just the it strategy. Now you might think. ,

Who is this within our industry?

There are several visionary healthcare leaders that have a seat at the table.

That are right there alongside their CEO and the CEO is tapping them on the shoulder. Pretty consistently. And saying, how do we approach this? How can we look at this differently? Because those CEOs understand that technology data. AI analytic. These things are going to transform how we deliver healthcare and they want that visionary leader right next to them. And there's a handful of organizations that do that. And there's a handful of those visionary leaders.

, from time to time, I will see those people at the JP Morgan conference presenting right alongside the CFO and the CIO. They are actively involved in the strategy of the organization. So I think those are the four archetypes that I'm working on. The change agent in the innovators is interesting because if I say change agent in innovator,

Every CIO says I'm one of those. So I don't think it's an ArcSight, but I don't think it's a specific category. I think it's more of a temperament. So you can come in with a temperament of a change agent. Right. This type of CIO is generally focused on transformation and innovation. They're often tasked with driving significant change within the organization, such as a change within the it structure, maybe moving to the cloud, those kinds of things. Maybe it's digital transformation of the health system.

, process re-engineering culture shift, you name it. Those are change agents. I think you can find a technician change agent. I think you can find operator change agents. Strategists and conductor and visionary leaders who are change agents. So I'm not sure that's an archetype. I think that's more of a temperament.

That you can find, , other temperaments you might find is the innovator and those people, generally, if you talk to them about it or healthcare, they're immediately gonna go to the next thing and how it's going to be able to be applied. To healthcare and to change things. So you have the, , change agent, the innovator, , you also have the, uh,

I'm not sure what to call it yet. But the person who comes in and essentially builds out structure. They look at it and say, wow, this organization has flown by the seat of their pants. In the it place. Here's what we're going to do. We're going to establish governance. We're going to add. Establish protocols. We're going to establish a budget. We're going to establish, , ratios of manager to employee. We're going to you.

And so I don't know what that is, but this is the person who looks at it and says, we, we, , we need structure. We need, , to bring some order to this chaos. So I have to think about what that is as well. But again, I don't think that's an archetype. I think there's four archetypes technician operator conductor and visionary leader.

, and I think what you see is, , the technician is more focused on the it department. The visionary leaders more focused on the enterprise and the operator conductor are focused on the business and carrying out that individual business. , Again, I'm writing this article. Love your feedback. If there's another archetype, I should be thinking about.

, let me know if there's another temperament. You know right now I have this a systems builder, the change agent and the innovator are the various, temperaments I have that come into this thing. , I think what I'm going to do is I'm going to write this article. And, I'm also thinking about potentially putting together a, you know, one of those tests that you can take and determine like which one you are and what your temperament is. And then writing some things about each one of them. So people can look at them and say, okay, this is who I am today, but I want to be this in the future.

And maybe map out, this is what a high functioning technician. CIO is a high functioning operators, CIO. I functioning conductor. It's funny because when I say these, archetypes, I think of people. I think of people I know who are in those categories and I know the high functioning ones and what they do extremely well for their organizations. And again, I don't think a visionary leaders any better than a technician. In fact, I think in some ways,

The visionary leaders couldn't do the job or the technician. I was in a room. I shared a little bit of this with some CEOs. And I just looked at him and I said, I wouldn't hire any of you. To be a CIO of a 25 person staff, not a single one because not a single one of them understood cybersecurity at the level. It needed to be understand as a technician, not a single one of them would put their hands on the keyboard, not a single one of them understood routing tables and I'm sitting there going.

That's what's required to be a technician CIO , on the flip side, I wouldn't hire any of the technicians to be a visionary leader. Because there is a skill set associated with operating in an enterprise. And, , gaining buy-in on initiatives. And, changing culture. And actually those people spend a lot of time looking at policy and how to insent people to move in a certain direction.

And they're looking at the financials and the budgets and a lot of technicians. CEO's, wouldn't be good at as visionary leaders. I think the operator conductor or somewhere in between there, the conductor would be somebody who really understands the financials of healthcare. The operator, not so much, they're more focused on getting the work done of a hospital anyway.

That's probably enough. , information for you to provide some feedback if you could. So if you have any feedback, shoot me note bill at this week, I'd love to hear what you're thinking. All right. That's all for today. Do you know someone that might benefit from our channel, please forward them a note.

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