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CIO Unplugged 10/19/11

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are mine personally and are not necessarily representative of current or former employers.

This is the fourth in a short series of posts on “The CIO’s Best Friends,” those BFFs who are critical in ensuring CIO effectiveness. This time we cover the CNO – CIO relationship.

Got Clinicians?

The CNO and I started our jobs about the same time. We knew we needed one another to be successful. With an electronic health record implementation looming, our partnership would be imperative.

As organizational rookies, we became kindred spirits. We commiserated, encouraged, and partnered. Through my CNO’s coaching, I learned we needed more clinicians inside of IT. “Got clinicians?” he prodded often. “If you don’t, you should.”

I wondered how many credentialed clinicians a healthy IT department should have. I now think 25% is a good target. Whatever your starting point, push to raise the percentage. Include a mix of MDs; RNs; radiology, medical, and pharmacy techs; pharmacists; therapists; and a smattering of other less common specialties. While many organizations have a CMIO, equally critical is a CNIO.

My CNO taught me that once you have clinicians on your team, you’ve got to ensure their successful transition into IT. Here are some things to think about in order to succeed.

Challenges for Clinicians Moving Into IT

Adapting to the office environment

Difficulty recognizing accomplishments/results

Loss of familiarity generates stress. The clinician must:

Facilitation skills are not in the typical nursing repertoire

Common Conflict Areas and Issues of Concern for Clinicians

Bridging the Gap and Investing in Clinicians

Preceptor program

Project management training

Professional development

Spend time with your CNO. Actively partner. If you can’t afford a CNIO to bridge the nursing and IT gap, assign another clinician as a part-time liaison.

Over the years, we moved from 5% clinical staff to nearly 25%. I believe one reason we successfully implemented and adopted clinical applications was due to our staff mix.

Embrace the significance of melding clinicians with IT. Be intentional with it, maximize the value, and encourage further adoption. A healthy mix leads to a high-performing healthcare IT organization. I’m so glad I listened to my CNO.

Got Clinicians?

Ed Marx is a CIO currently working for a large integrated health system. Ed encourages your interaction through this blog. Add a comment by clicking the link at the bottom of this post. You can also connect with him directly through his profile pages on social networking sites LinkedIn and Facebook and you can follow him via Twitter — user name marxists.