Why 'top-management tech muscle' is taking over the C-suite

Leadership is still most important, one CEO says

Knowledge of health IT systems and analytics is becoming more important in the hospital C-suite than prior health care experience, according to a new Black Book Market Research survey.

The survey included responses from 1,515 industry stakeholders, who ranked the most desirable skills for hospital executives. About 780 respondents were from health care organizations, while about 730 respondents were from external recruitment agencies.

Report findings

According to the report, technology and data systems management knowledge was the most important skill identified for almost all C-suite positions. Black Book said this was the first year that prior health care industry experience was not ranked in the top 10.

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According to the report, the most desired traits for the hospital C-suite were:

  1. Technological & Data/Systems Management
  2. Advanced Analytics
  3. Deployment and Execution
  4. Strategy/Planning/Marketing
  5. Finance & Reimbursement
  6. Leadership
  7. Relationships/Team Building
  8. Communications
  9. Change Management
  10. Integrity

The most desirable traits for CEOs specifically were:

  1. Technology & Data/Systems Management
  2. Strategy/Planning/Marketing
  3. Change Management

Doug Brown, managing partner at Black Book, said, "Every C-suite officer currently being recruited by hospital organizations needs to be, in part, a CIO," adding, "Health care is a knowledge-based business and it runs at the speed of software in 2015."

"Hospitals need more top-management tech muscle," Brown said.

Responding to industry trends

Experts say the increasing importance of technology expertise in the C-suite is a reflection of how health care is changing. Population health management, value-based care, and network integration all require an understanding of data, technology, and analytics.

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But Barry Ostrowsky, president and CEO of Barnabas Health, warns that hospital executives should not become too focused on technology. "Technology isolates people, compromising the interpersonal relationships that accelerate productivity," he explains.

"You can't manage people via Twitter" (Heath, EHR Intelligence, 10/19; Davis, Healthcare IT News, 10/23; Dvorak, FierceHealthIT, 10/21).

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