Chief Clinical Information Officer iStock
Chief Clinical Information Officer iStock

The Chief Clinical Information Officer (CCIO) is a position that exists within the healthcare industry, that combines the expertise of a long-practicing medical clinician with the IT knowledge of a CIO role.

The NHS named its first Chief Clinical Information Officer, Professor Keith McNeil, in July 2016. His remit was to help transform the overall digital strategy of the NHS with the aim of improving patient care. In early 2018, the NHS appointed a new CCIO, Dr Simon Eccles, who is also a practicing hospital consultant in Emergency Medicine. 

"Digital Health is a fast-paced arena, and we must ensure parties work together to drive improvements for patients, who will remain my focus as I move from Hospital work to driving the NHS IT agenda," he said at the time that he was appointed. "This is a really exciting time to be working on digital transformation and more so in the NHS with many important changes on the horizon." 

Here, CIO UK examines the relatively young role of the CCIO - their duties, job description and skill sets - as well as the kind of salaries CCIOs can expect to earn.

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Chief Clinical Information Officer job description 

The CCIO's role is a vital marriage of insight into clinical strategy and understanding of digital technology and systems.

CCIOs must collaborate with the CIO and IT teams on delivering efficient, cost-effective and adaptable technology products which can improve the patient journey and overall healthcare.

Bringing a clinical perspective to a more traditional CIO role, CCIOs will outline a strategic plan for new ways technology could be implemented within the organisation.

CCIOs aim to continually improve the healthcare of patients, and a number of UK Trusts are investigating and implementing emerging technologies including the internet of things, Big Data and machine learning to achieve this.

2017 Harvey Nash/KPMG survey showed that compared to other industries, healthcare boards were much more focused on IT departments delivering business intelligence and analytics, as well as increasing operational efficiencies. Healthcare boards were also more likely than other industries to say they were looking to invest in cybersecurity in an effort to counter uncertainty.

CIO UK spoke to Chief Clinical Information Officer Dr Anthony Smith about his responsibilities in his role at Yeovil Hospital NHS Trust.

Smith's role sees him support the technology and digital teams in implementing IT. Some of the role consists of selecting, introducing and maintaining electronic clinical systems.

"The role is rapidly changing - I communicate with the digital team on the strategy they are developing for the Trust," he said. "It is rewarding to be a part of something in tech with a main focus being on the staff and patient healthcare."

In terms of line of command, who the CCIO reports to will vary between different organisations. In most, the CCIO will report to the CEO, as well as various other fellow executives. Within the NHS, the CCIO role reports to the NHS National Director for Operations and Information.

Salary 

CCIOs are expected to have extensive clinical experience, sometimes in excess of 10 years as a practising clinician, as well as a deep understanding of electronic health information systems in a hospital environment. As such, the salaries can reflect the demanding nature of the position.

It's a relatively new role, but according to Payscale.com, the average salary for a CCIO is $114,679 (£85,565), while in 2016, the average pay for CIOs in healthcare in the UK was $197,273 (£147,169).

Research indicates this is a growing area, with a 2018 report finding that 38% of healthcare CIOs saw their salary increase over the previous year.