Why CMIOs Matter, and Why We Hired One

On Monday morning, April 4, we were proud to announce that Dr. Todd Rothenhaus has come onboard here at athenahealth to serve in the role of chief medical information officer, or CMIO. It’s a new position and we’re excited he’s joined us. Among many other tasks he’ll take on, he’ll be working on various product development and physician advocacy initiatives.

So now that we’ve got one on the payroll…you might ask: what exactly is a CMIO? And why do we now have one at athenahealth?

I have always known, at a gut level, that from a sales perspective, CMIOs are more important for us to engage with early in the sales process than a traditional CIO (no offense Halamka, I still wanna be friends). In fact, we became major sponsors of CMIO magazine long before I truly appreciated the role of a CMIO!

The CMIO is almost always a doctor, but a doctor in an executive position responsible for managing the health information in a medical organization. They lead implementation of EMR and other health information technology systems. And it seems there is a Lorax element to most. Remember that Dr. Seuss favorite? Well, in the way that the Lorax speaks for the trees, the CMIOs I know speak for the other docs in their organization where management of information is concerned.Continue reading…

The CMIO Should Be a Doctor

A hospital’s Chief Medical Information Office (CMIO) should be a physician, says Pam Brier, president and CEO of Maimonides Medical Center, “because nobody knows a doctor’s business like a doctor.”

As a hospital’s information technology (IT) point person, a CMIO needs to be able to persuade physicians and other health care professionals that health information technology (HIT) can help them care for patients.

It is not that Brier believes that non-physician managers can’t talk to doctors. . . After all, she herself is not an M.D. Yet she runs Maimonides, a top-ranked 700- bed teaching hospital in Brooklyn, New York.

On the other hand, Brier is not an MBA either. She has a master’s in Health Administration, which means that, unlike many hospital CEOs who went to graduate school to study business, she understands that an organization that provides health care is not a “business” in any ordinary sense of the word. A hospital is a service organization: its raison d’etre is to meet the needs of a community and its patients.

It is telling that before coming to Maimonides in 1995, Brier spent fifteen years in New York City’s municipal hospital system, and  still says: “Even though I’m not working for government anymore, I still feel that I’m a public servant.”Continue reading…