CNIO = YES; Nurse CIOs are on the Rise!

Technology is a major investment for any healthcare institution.  Enlisting the right people to implement new technologies is vital to ensuring maximum value and impact.  When it comes to choosing technology to improve patient care, more facilities are turning to those whose knowledge and education extends beyond traditional IT.  Chief Nursing Information Officers (CNIOs) are being hired at accelerated rates for the purpose of executing successful EHR installations and helping shape organizational technology strategies.

What makes this position so valuable?

As nurses are the biggest users of EHR systems, CNIOs know what to look for in terms of functionality for optimal use. Currently, this represents an unfulfilled need.  According to a report by Black Book Market Research, 92% of nurses are dissatisfied with their hospital’s EHR system.  Reasons include:

  • Lack of improvement in communication between the nurse and care team
  • Decline in communication between nurses and patients
  • Flawed systems

As a whole, nurses feel that these systems do not improve the quality of patient information, which is key for providing a safe healthcare environment.  They also believe systems are chosen based on price vs. performance and easing workload.  Because CNIOs are knowledgeable about how nurses utilize patient data, they are the likely choice for deciding upon an EHR system that offers the best value and keeps staff happy.

Employing a CNIO to put an EHR system in place that is functional and easy to use is also beneficial when it comes to recruiting.  Black Book’s report states that 79% of job-seeking nurses said the reputation of a hospital’s EHR system is a “top three” consideration for employment.

Other areas which utilize technologies that can benefit from a strong CNIO’s input are remote patient monitoring, telehealth technology and documenting care.

Finally, CNIOs can bridge the communications gap between nurses, doctors and IT by enlisting input from physicians and working with the Chief Medical Information Officer to streamline electronic documentation and improve workflows.

Chief Nursing Information Officers in Demand

Executive search firms are seeing demand escalate for well-educated CNIOs.   According to a survey from executive search firm Witt-Kieffer, 70% of multi-hospital systems and 82% of hospitals that are part of multi-hospital systems said they had a Chief Nursing Information Officer (CNIO) or equivalent.   An additional 17% said they planned on bringing in a CNIO in the next year or two.

Due to it being a new and emerging role, a CNIO’s responsibilities can vary.  Base salary for a typical CNIO is $200,000 – $250,000 per year (less for government-owned health systems).  When hiring CNIOs, a majority of institutions cite a background in nursing informatics as being important along with health IT implementation and project management experience.  A smaller number cited finance skills as a necessity.

With the duties being somewhat ambiguous at this time, what role would you see a CNIO playing at your institution?  What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of employing a CNIO?

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