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2/10/2010
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Healthcare CIOs Get New Certification

To earn Certified Healthcare CIO designation, candidates must pass exam and have at least three years experience in a CIO position.

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, or CHIME, has launched the first healthcare CIO-specific certification program.

The Certified Healthcare CIO (CHCIO) program is being created by healthcare CIOs with the help of Castle Worldwide, an organization that has developed certification exams in other industries, said George McCulloch, deputy CIO at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and associate director of the new certification program.

Previously healthcare CIOs made do with broader designations like FACHE, Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, and FHIMSS, Fellow Healthcare Information Management System Society.

The new CHCIO program has been in development since the summer of 2008 when a job analysis study was conducted that involved interviewing many top CIOs, McCulloch said. Subsequently the group identified 13 core CIO tasks and 75 knowledge and skill points that were critical to being effective in the role. "Those were the basis for the exam writers to create their questions and scenarios," he said.

Besides passing the exam, candidates must have a minimum of three years experience in a CIO or CIO-equivalent position, or have accumulated three years of experience in the past six years. They must be a CHIME or CHIME affiliate (chief medical informatics officers and chief nursing informatics officers) member and have earned a BA degree. Applicants must complete 25 continuing education units within 12 months of passing the test. They also must uphold the CHCIO professional standards of conduct.

The exam was written to see if candidates could come up with solutions to complicated scenarios that CIOs face everyday, not simply recall facts and figures, said Randy McCleese, VP of IS and CIO at St. Claire Regional Medical Center. In the initial test, 25 of the 125 questions are scenario-based, with the rest multiple choice. In the next iteration, CHIME is planning a to increase the number of scenario-based questioning to 40 out of 100 questions.

Applicants must review the materials highlighted in the study guide, which features books like "The New CIO Leader: Setting the Agenda and Delivering Results," by Marianne Broadbent and Ellen Kitzis, said Donna Roach, VP of IT and CIO at Bronson Healthcare Group.

The exam's focus will keep pace with the changing role of the CIO, said Russ Branzell, CIO and VP at Poudre Valley Health System. The CIO's role has evolved from being a technology manager to one that "facilitates organizational transformation through the application of technology," Branzell said. With the new certification test, "we wanted to ensure people were operating at that higher level," he said. McCleese, McCulloch, Roach, and Branzell are members of the CHCIO certification steering committee.

Fifty CHIME members participated in the exam's development, covering eight different committees and more than 1,000 working hours. The next CHCIO exam is Feb. 27 at the CHIME Spring Forum held in conjunction with the annual HIMSS conference in Atlanta. The deadline to apply is Feb. 19. For more information, contact CHCIO@cio-chime.org.

Anthony Guerra is the founder and editor of healthsystemCIO.com, a site dedicated to serving the strategic information needs of healthcare CIOs. He can be reached at aguerra@healthsystemCIO.com.

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