101 Careers in Healthcare ManagementIn this weekly feature, the editors of SpringBoard highlight one career in the health care professions–including a basic description, educational requirements, core competencies/key skills needed, and related web sites and professional organizations where you can find more information!

The Chief Information Officer (CIO) provides technology vision and leadership in the development and implementation of the hospital-wide information technology (IT) program. The CIO will lead the organization in planning and implementing enterprise information systems to support both distributed and centralized clinical and business operations and achieve more effective and cost-beneficial enterprise-wide IT operations.

Additionally, the CIO:

  • Provides strategic and tactical planning, development, evaluation, and coordination of the information and technology systems for the hospital
  • Facilitates communication among staff, management, vendors, and other technology resources within the organization
  • Oversees the back office computer operations of the affiliate management information system, including local area networks and wide-area networks
  • Is responsible for the management of multiple information and communications systems and projects, including voice, data, imaging, and office automation
  • Designs, implements, and evaluates the systems that support end users in the productive use of computer hardware and software
  • Develops and implements user-training programs
  • Oversees and evaluates system security and backup procedures
  • Supervises the network administrator

Most acute care hospitals’ CIOs require a bachelor’s degree in computer science, business administration, or a related field, or equivalent experience. A master’s degree in health/hospital administration, public health, or business administration, or a related field is highly desirable. Minimum of 3 years of experience with increasing responsibilities for management and support of healthcare information systems and IT, direct management of a major IT operation is preferred. Significant experience in a healthcare setting is desirable, specifically in technology and information systems planning to support business goals.


  • Outstanding interpersonal skills including the ability to effectively communicate with persons throughout the organization, including clinicians
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Significant experience in data-processing methods and procedures, and computer software systems
  • Knowledge in systems design and development processes, including requirements analysis, feasibility studies, software design, programming, pilot testing, installation, evaluation, and operational management
  • Ability to oversee the management and coordination of all fiscal reporting activities for the hospital
  • Familiarity with the design, management, and operation of health IT systems
  • Proven ability to link and apply complex technologies to business strategies
  • Experience in negotiating contracts with vendors, contractors, and others
  • Ability to analyze and resolve complex issues, both logical and interpersonal

Most hospital-based CIOs earn salaries in the range of $80,000 to $300,000 per year. However, this figure varies depending on a number of variables, including the size of the hospital and the region of the country in which the hospital is located. CIOs of smaller hospitals in more rural areas tend to earn less than their counterparts at large, urban hospitals.

The overall outlook for hospital CIO jobs is expected to increase over the coming years. The reason for the increase is due to need for hospitals to make health technology an increasing part of clinical and administrative operations. There remain a number of federal financial and regulatory incentives to vigorously move into health IT. CIO is a relatively new occupation and it is difficult to assess turnover, but anecdotal reports indicate that CIOs turnover at a brisk pace to accept roles with increasing salary and responsibility.


  • Visit local universities offering the MHA degree or equivalent, particularly those who offer concentrations in health IT (www.aupha.org)
  • Health Information Management System Society (www.himss.org)
  • Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov/oco/cg/cgs035.htm)