Healthcare Organization and Information System Strategic Alignment: A Leadership Perspective.

Organizational and Healthcare Information Systems (HIS) strategic alignment is a key factor in developing successful healthcare organizations.  Scholars suggest that a shared Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Organizational Executive Team (OET) strategic vision might best be formed by engaging in exchanges surrounding organizational practices, business processes and strategies, communicating knowledge regarding HIS capabilities and HIS business operations, integrating HIS and organizational strategies towards common goals, and generating a coherent vision of HIS-enabled organizational advantages.  Preston and Karahanna (2009) suggest that six visioning methodologies might serve to better align the HIS vision with organizational objectives and promote the adoption of a shared HIS vision.  These mechanisms include utilizing a shared language of business, the creation of an inclusive network hierarchy that aligns the CIO to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in reporting and thoroughly integrates the CIO into the Organizational Executive Team, CIO education leadership aimed at educating members of the OET regarding the current capabilities and limitations of the organizations IS infrastructure and operating systems, building common interests across the CIO-OET framework, enhanced CIO understanding of the organizations strategy, and finally CIO relational capital that builds trust across the CIO-OET working relationship.

Three core personal attributes supporting strategy oriented CIO efforts include communication and influencing attributes, commercial business skills, and people management skills.  CIO’s endeavoring to communicate effectively and influence the adoption of a shared IS vision across the organization face challenges relative to engaging other key leaders in IT decision making processes. Here CIO’s might look towards methodologies centered in CIO educational leadership as a model that suggests CIO’s sponsoring educational initiatives such as organizational seminars, in-service instruction, and workshops that serve to build a body of knowledge that might assist other key leaders in understanding important issues surrounding IT decision making.  Additionally, trends in healthcare IS innovation suggest that the innovative pace will continue to significantly impact healthcare organizations across the complete spectrum of operations, services, and quality .  Therefore, CIO’s must endeavor to communicate the best use of HIS innovation in a manner that translates into language understood throughout the organization.

Yet another attribute successful CIO leaders must develop include people management skills that translate into the CIO becoming increasingly engaged in championing innovation.  Creating a shared IS vision is a challenge that requires CIO’s to develop and sharpen soft skills that are required to motivate and drive change in areas such as transparency, care quality, patient safety, and that maximize quality-cost-value competitiveness across the organization.  Finally, CIO’s should strive to enhance their commercial and business skills so that they are better equipped to meet challenges related to justifying IS expenditures. This becomes especially important in relationship to trends that suggest future access to enterprise capital might become constrained and costlier to the organization as capital markets evolve towards higher interest environments.

Contemporary CIO’s face multifaceted challenges that reach far beyond the technical complexities of information systems and require them to take on additional roles aligned to leadership, facilitation and education, and healthcare business management.  It should also be noted that healthcare administrators, managers, an practitioners should endeavor to improve their understanding  of the issues and challenges faced by HIS personnel and leaders. Moreover, each of these important organizational contributors should seek to form collaborative partnerships that create competitive advantages that bring value to healthcare consumers.

Author: Michael Cosmah for CurativeMangement.com

Preston, D., & Karahanna, E. (2009). How to Develop a Shared Vision: The Key to Is Strategic Alignment. MIS Quarterly Executive8(1), 1–8.