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Importance of Leadership in Healthcare IT

When most people think of the healthcare industry, they think of doctors, nurses and clinicians who treat illnesses. However, the healthcare industry is varied, and some of the lesser-known positions in healthcare IT are leading the way in today’s technological innovation.

Healthcare IT

In the past, healthcare IT has been limited to large machines in hospitals. Healthcare IT technicians ensured the proper functioning of X-ray imagers, dialysis machines and CT scanners, to name a few. Today, though, modern hospitals house a variety of technologies — some only indirectly involved in patient diagnosis but all of them integral to treatment nonetheless.

Healthcare IT professionals are the lifeblood of a hospital. They ensure the proper functioning of a number of vital systems, and they safeguard patients’ sensitive information. They are responsible for how insurance companies receive service bills and how doctors plan a patient’s long-term treatment. All of these varied roles, however, rely on a common trait: leadership.

Research in the peer-reviewed journal Perspectives in Clinical Research has found that many electronic health records “implementation projects fail because [organizers] underestimate the importance of one or more clinician to serve as opinion leaders for providers in the clinic.” That is, while technologies like electronic health records “increase access to health care, improve the quality of care and decrease costs,” many healthcare professionals hesitate to adopt them. Without strong leadership in healthcare IT, many new, beneficial technologies meet resistance from healthcare providers.

Strong Leaders Needed

Organizations such as the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society recognize the importance of leadership in healthcare IT. As such, HIMSS defines “leadership [as] the one key ingredient for the success of adoption of information technology” and counts leadership as a central tenet of effective healthcare IT education.

A study in the Journal for the American Medical Informatics Association bolsters this focus. Researchers found that a majority of chief medical information officers “had significant management experience prior to serving as a CMIO and were positioned and supported within each health system similar to other executive leaders.” That is, CMIOs are more executives than technicians.

Education Required

While candidates for administrative healthcare IT positions may have a background in information technology, those technical skills are less important than executive leadership skills. In the same study from the Journal for the American Medical Informatics Association, only one-fifth of the study’s participants had a background in informatics. What mattered more in these positions was the “business side” of affairs: leaders who could push for the implementation of new standards and techniques.

One way to gain these skills is by earning an MBA with an emphasis in Healthcare Information Systems. Degree programs like this offer postgraduate work in the business applications of healthcare IT, and students learn common business administration tactics.

Many students are turning to online options for an MBA in Healthcare Information Systems, as these options afford students flexible schedules and remote attendance. Furthermore, working professionals can take what they learn in the classroom and immediately apply it to their careers.

Given that the Health Information Management Systems Society places such an importance on leadership skills, healthcare IT professionals would do well to reinforce their qualifications with some leadership training. Fortunately, some programs provide options for professionals who wish to continue working while learning. Building a repertoire of leadership skills with an MBA with an emphasis in Healthcare Information Systems may be the best choice for healthcare IT professionals looking to boost their careers.

Learn more about Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s MBA with an emphasis in Healthcare Information Systems Online.


US National Library of Medicine: Ethical issues in electronic health records: A general overview

Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association: The CMIO — A New Leader for Health Systems

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