How a Chief Digital Officer Can Benefit Your Healthcare Organization

Your leadership team is looking to make changes that will put your hospital or healthcare organization ahead of the competition, but it is difficult to determine where to make these changes so that it makes the most beneficial impact. Looking at creating a digital transformation for your organization would be a good move to consider and bringing on a Chief Digital Officer can help you achieve your goals faster than your competition can begin to think about implementation.

As of today, the healthcare industry has lagged when it comes to advances in technology. This is partly due to constraints in regulation, but this pushback to early adoption is also due to traditional ways of thinking. Archaic systems and fear of change can be disastrous in healthcare and it is imperative to make these changes before your organization is left behind. Staying on top of and ahead of advances in technology is the only way that healthcare firms and organizations will be able to meet consumer expectations, to reach patient satisfaction standards, and compete. This requires a strong Chief Digital Officer who is equipped to handle new ways of thinking and is ready to take action to shift the status quo at all levels of the organization.

How a Chief Digital Officer Can Benefit Your Healthcare Organization

What to look for in Chief Digital Officers in Healthcare
The right Chief Digital Officer can bring significant benefits to a healthcare organization

All types of healthcare organizations from not-for-profit, for-profit, academic, governmental and faith-based hospital systems are dealing with how to digitize while keeping their patients’ information safe and how to make sure the systems they put in place are able to scale up as things change on an almost daily basis. A strong Chief Digital Officer will look at the need to digitize as a huge opportunity to help his or her organization have an advantage in the field.

He or she must start by doing a deep dive into the current state of information technology and how it is affecting the organization internally and externally. This means analyzing core internal processes and the data that is being processed within the healthcare system. Then, he or she must look at the technology available that will help to digitize all aspects of informatics at the organization including big data, AI, cloud, mobile, social media and even bots to build a strong plan of how internal operations can be updated to create a more error-free, safe operating system that will save money and increase revenues and patient safety.

Challenges a Healthcare Chief Digital Officer will Face

Outside of changing outdated ways, the biggest hurdle a CDO will encounter is allocating funds for technology within the many departments of a healthcare organization. Leaders in marketing, operations, human resources, and all other departments will want to have new technology allocated to their departments. Updating outdated technology has a great potential for increasing departmental ROIs, but knowing where to allocate resources can be a contentious issue that requires diplomacy from the Chief Digital Officer you put in place at your hospital system. Another reason he or she needs to be an adept communicator is that large digital changes can be perceived as intimidating and disruptive. Because of this, your CDO will need to be more than just digitally literate. He or she must be a true leader and be able to work with other leaders such as the CFO to prioritize allocations and to effectively communicate why changes will happen and how they will develop.

How can the CDO Meet this Challenge

Digitizing a healthcare organization or hospital system is not a quick task. A full digitization can take years. In order to properly implement these changes, your healthcare Chief Digital Officer will need to have a long-term strategy that is broken down into smaller agendas. This will allow the digitization process to be tracked and it will allow your team to see quick successes from each of the smaller digitization projects. For example, this could include an internal data project that helps physicians to diagnose patients quickly and more accurately and therefore opening up the time to spend with patients, increasing one-on-one engagement and increasing patient satisfaction and HCAHPS scores.

Regardless of the paths taken to digitize the organization, it is of utmost importance that the Chief Digital Officer has a true understanding of healthcare. Often times, developers and those in digital industries tend to develop for themselves. In order to decrease the chances of unnecessary development, the Chief Digital Officer that is put into place should have a strong healthcare background so that he or she can model decisions that consider all aspects of health care; not just technology and digital but business processes, education, patient satisfaction, and actual need. In order to do this, he or she should have open and ongoing communication with other leaders and members of the organization.

Skills to Look for in A Chief Digital Officer

When placing a permanent or interim Chief Digital Officer, it is important to look beyond qualifications. The CDO must think differently, they must be able to look at the organization as a whole and understand how the systems that are put into place will affect the entire entity. Once they have a set plan, they must be able to communicate their vision clearly and effectively to both healthcare c-suite leaders and to the rest of the organization. He or she must be able to recognize the trends in technology that have the potential to go beyond being trends and which can become a part of the organization’s digital roadmap.

If the talent you are considering has worked in a digital consumer-oriented business and has executed a transformation in the past, this will be incredibly beneficial. This experience means they will know of the potential risks that may arise in this type of process and that they will be able to put things in place to mitigate this risk if it should occur.

How Summit Talent Group Can Help You Find the Perfect CDO


Summit Talent Group is a different type of firm. We are not merely a healthcare recruiter or retained executive search firm. Summit Talent Group works as a boutique healthcare executive search firm. This means that we look to build long-lasting bonds with our clients. As such, we take on a limited number of engagements so that our principals can devote time to truly getting to know your healthcare organization and its needs. Taking time early on allows our search experts to more effectively recognize the talent that will make a better fit for your organization. Our goal is to find the right person; the person who will be able to successfully address the needs of your organization and succeed along with you and your team.

If you would like to speak with one of our leaders about our six-step process and track record, contact us. We look forward to building the future of healthcare with you.