HIMSS Changemaker Offers 6 Leadership Strategies for CMIOs

During the pandemic, my organization embodied the spirit of rapid change as we never had before. Ozarks Healthcare became one of the first hospitals in the region to administer monoclonal antibodies to COVID-19 patients, and to have them built directly into our EHR order sets.

But making change during a short-term crisis is one thing; maintaining a longstanding change mindset is another. My role as a CMIO is a challenging one, but several essential strategies have helped me and my organization to keep our momentum going:

  • Personalize the CMIO role in a way that works for you and your organization. For me, it was very important to set aside dedicated time for leadership responsibilities (about 65% of my working hours), while still working as a hospitalist part-time. This hybrid experience gives me credibility with my fellow clinicians as well as a better understanding of their workflows, so I can be a more effective advocate on their behalf.
  • Pay attention to your end users. If you want patients to have a good experience, you need your providers to have a good experience. Engage with clinicians on the issues they care about, and bring these concerns to your work with other leaders, both inside and outside your organization. You should also participate in physician advisory events with your technology partners to make sure their voices get heard.
  • Assist your EHR vendors with product development. Collaborative partnerships with IT companies can lead to early adopter opportunities that are not often available to small or financially strapped healthcare organizations. Through our relationship with our IT vendor, MEDITECH, we are piloting two ambient and generative AI products for clinical notes during in-person patient visits.
  • Connect with and learn from others. Participating in industry conferences and memberships like HIMSS and CHIME can open so many doors that you don’t expect. I got involved with the KLAS Arch Collaborative after hearing them speak during a vendor event. Working with this group enabled us to access surveys and compare Ozarks’ EHR utilization with other organizations. The best practices that we discovered helped us to improve our clinician EHR satisfaction - from 15% all the way up to 85%.
  • Give back to other organizations that need help. Assisting other hospitals with their EHR goals builds your knowledge and problem-solving experience in immeasurable ways. One organization we helped during its implementation, Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi, is embarking on a global digitization project that will see its seven hospitals and over 340 outreach medical centers go fully paperless. They’ve given us a lot of inspiration—it more than makes up for the time spent.
  • Celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small. Even the most trivial seeming improvements can matter so much to the people in our communities. Never underestimate the impact of your efforts.

Having a positive attitude about change isn’t easy, but what a difference it can make. Even with limited time and resources, we all have the potential to be changemakers - for the good of our organization, our staff, and our patients. Just start with caring, and go from there.

Priscilla Frase, MD, is the CMIO of Ozarks Healthcare (West Plains, MO) as well as the recipient of HIMSS’ 2024 Senior Executive Changemaker Award.

Read the blog: Becoming a master of change in a dynamic industry to learn more about Dr. Frase’s accomplishments as a HIMSS Changemaker