Leadership in Health Informatics: What Is a Chief Information Officer?

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Chief information officer poses in an office building.Most businesses in the United States rely on some type of information technology (IT) department. The IT department does everything from fixing day-to-day technology issues to installing software that allows businesses to operate as efficiently as possible. Chief information officer (CIO) is the highest position in the IT department. The CIO handles big-picture issues, such as ordering equipment, hiring staff, and instituting technological strategies to help a business keep up with industry trends.

Beneath the CIO, IT department managers are responsible for the everyday maintenance of computer systems. Many CIOs begin their careers working somewhere within the IT department. Those who aspire to work in IT and potentially one day as a CIO may want to consider pursuing a Master of Science in Health Informatics from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

What Does a Chief Information Officer Do?

CIOs strategize and find effective ways to integrate technologies into an organization. Most businesses cannot function without computer technologies and an online presence, and the CIO oversees and organizes all technology information.

Chief Information Officer Duties

  • Meeting business goals. Depending on the size and goals of a business, the CIO must implement the correct technological strategies to meet the business’s needs. For example, hospital CIOs might look at growing trends in medical equipment and calculate whether purchasing certain equipment for their facilities would be worth the cost.
  • Overseeing the IT department. Many CIOs work closely with the IT department. The CIO must make sure all members of the department are comfortable with the technologies they’re using. CIOs also may oversee the hiring of new IT employees and help integrate them into the team. Depending on the size of the IT department, it may employ IT directors and security managers, but ultimately the whole department still reports to the CIO.
  • Building a secure cyber infrastructure. CIOs need to keep company information safe, which they often do by practicing information risk management (IRM). CIOs implement IRM strategies to protect information from possible dangers such as hackers and other information security breaches. The amount of time and money spent on IRM strategies correlates with how high risk the CIO determines the information to be. Some examples of high-risk information are credit card details and personal addresses.
  • Analyzing data. CIOs have access to all of the data in their organizations. By studying their data, along with data from other similar organizations, they can predict changes in their markets and help their companies adapt accordingly. CIOs often work closely with chief executive officers (CEOs) to help develop marketing strategies and cost-effective operation methods.

Steps to Becoming a Chief Information Officer

  • Develop a foundation in computer science. CIOs should have a bachelor’s degree at minimum. Common undergraduate majors among potential CIOs are computer science and other computer-related fields. A bachelor’s degree in computer science should lay the foundation for a student to become well-versed in building websites, cybersecurity, and trends in information technology.
  • Work in IT and project management. Prospective CIOs need to gain experience working in IT or other computer-related departments. Project management skills are highly valued in a CIO, so it’s crucial to study how a department is managed and to jump at the opportunity to lead any IT-related projects.
  • Master a special area. As mentioned earlier, CIOs operate in many different kinds of businesses. Before returning for a master’s degree, professionals should consider how they’d like to interact with information technology. A student interested in working in IT and eventually as a hospital CIO might consider earning a Master of Science in Health Informatics from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
  • Grow in the industry. A prospective CIO with a master’s degree and experience working in an IT department will be a strong candidate for competitive IT positions. IT workers who prove to be fast learners and strong leaders may move up the ladder quickly to a role such as IT director or chief technology officer (CTO).

What Is a Chief Information Officer Paid?

CIOs often make a competitive salary, which increases based on skills and experience. The need for CIOs is also growing as industries become more reliant on technological information.

CIO Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and information systems managers earned a median salary of 142,530 in 2018. The BLS also notes that in 2013 network and computer systems administrators with master’s degrees earned on average 26% more than those with only a bachelor’s.

Expected Growth

The BLS expects jobs in computer and information systems management to grow 12% between 2016 and 2026—faster than the average of 7% for all jobs. That equates to a projected 44,200 new jobs in this field by 2026.

Why a Master of Science in Health Informatics Is a Good Start

As the health care industry grows more reliant on software systems and digital platforms, its need for skilled IT workers increases. Hospitals and other health care facilities need CIOs who are capable of organizing patient databases and knowledgeable of recent technological advancements in the field.

A Master of Science in Health Informatics from the University of Illinois at Chicago can help prepare students to work in the information technology department of a health care center. The master’s program is available entirely online and is designed to fit the schedule of working professionals. People with the desire to work in the information technology field while also helping others can take the first step toward becoming a CIO today. 

Recommended Readings

How Will AI in Health Care Continue to Evolve?

IT at the Executive Level: What Is a Chief Information Officer?

What Is Health Care Data? Examining a Key Concept in Modern Care 


Bitsight, “What Is Information Risk Management”

Business News Daily, “Building Your CIO Career Plan in 5 (Not-So-Easy) Steps”

Forbes, “The Evolving Role of the CIO in 2018”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer and Information Systems Managers