5 Reasons your #DigitalHealth Company needs a CMIO

In between reviewing project proposals, running a consultancy and staying on top of the latest developments in Digital Health I’ve noticed an interesting trend. In that last few months I’ve started receiving offers from a range of organisations both small and large asking me to consider taking up a Chief Medical Informatics Officer (CMIO) role.

I started asking myself, “Why?”, so I dug a little deeper into the whole thing. The CMIO as a career path has really taken off in the US with ever more commercially minded, younger physicians moving into industry. Europe hasn’t shown the same interest but that may be about to change. Regardless, I think it presents a tremendous opportunity for a broad range of companies looking to leverage digital technology in healthcare and here’s why:

1. New Product Development

Telecom providers, pharma, IT vendors, medical device manufacturers, investors and plenty of other groups are all looking at opportunities to differentiate themselves through the use of digital technology platforms and systems. There’s no limit to the number of tremendously skilled developers and engineers who can create sophisticated systems but there is a lack of clinicians who have the commercial eye to spot opportunities. That’s a skill you simply can’t replicate without an intimate knowledge of the inner processes of healthcare systems. You want to create a positive a user experience? You need someone who’s been on the inside working with you.

2. Stakeholder Mapping

There’s more to healthcare than the doctor – patient relationship. There are nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, community workers, management and many others for that matter. They all influence the patient journey in different ways and have different issues that bother them. They can also be key decision makers when it comes to technology adoption and ultimately procurement. Having someone who understands the key stakeholders can be the difference between a great product sinking while it’s still on the drawing board and one that experiences mass adoption and crosses the chasm.

3. Speaking the Language

This one’s pretty straightforward. You want to speak the same language as the people investing in and buying your services. If you’re using techspeak then you’re probably not going to have much success. A CMIO can make sure your message is clear, powerful and effective for the people who need to hear it.

4. Regional Differences

So far the US organisations that have approached me about providing CMIO type services in most cases already have a CMIO. What they’ve been looking for is someone who can provide the benefits I’ve been describing but in a manner that targets the UK and Europe. Now that is a shrewd move. When you start going global the range of healthcare systems you have to manage is going to gradually grow and your dealings with stakeholders and regulators will grow more complex. Having a regional CMIO will help you translate your successful services so that they fit the needs of global markets.

5. Trust

Whether you’re looking for your next round of investment or are a global organisation you know that people invest in people. Trust is critical and if you’re in healthcare without a clinician on the team then something’s amiss. You shouldn’t just go ahead and employ any healthcare professional but one who’s going to support your strategic development and execution and who has an eye for commercial success. Select the right person and they’ll help you build the type of trust you need to acquire and retain customers and ultimately have the positive clinical impact we’re all in this for.

So those are my reasons why you should be looking for a CMIO to add to your team if you don’t have one already. Whether now is the right time to make that call will vary on a case by case basis but I expect in the next 18 – 24 months that we’ll see more CMIO appointments and I hope it’ll have a positive impact for patients.

What do you think? Tweet me @Saif_Abed and connect with me on LinkedIn HERE

Dr Saif Abed
Founding Partner
AbedGraham Healthcare Strategies Ltd