AMDIS Takeaways: The CMIO Role Continues to Expand

By Zachary Durst and Wendy Kerschner

We recently attended the annual AMDIS Physician-Computer Connection Symposium, an event that showcases the exceptional contributions of physician informatics leaders in tackling the numerous challenges faced by healthcare organizations. The sessions underscored the expanding role of informatics in today’s health systems, highlighting the role its leaders have had in delivering valuable solutions that improve healthcare outcomes, promote clinician wellness and optimize organizational efficiency. The presentations covered a diverse range of topics, fostering the exchange of best practices and valuable insights that Chief Medical Informatics Officers (CMIOs) and other informatics leaders can take back to their organizations.

Below are the some of the key topics discussed during the event.

The Continued Rise of Artificial Intelligence

The rapid proliferation and increasing mainstream adoption of AI tools, including ChatGPT and other generative artificial intelligence technologies, have become a prominent topic of interest for informatics leaders. Each healthcare organization is at a different stage of AI adoption, and several presentations focused on sharing lessons learned and effective strategies for harnessing the power of AI, as well as examining the best tools to integrate AI into current electronic medical records and other applications. Although many organizations still need to hire a Chief AI Officer, the responsibility for assessing tools, implementing solutions, and training on ethical and secure usage has fallen to informatics leaders in many cases. Marlene Millen, M.D., shared a report about how UC San Diego Health’s GPT Epic Pilot leverages GPT-4 – the most current version – within the EMR. The tool took information from patient charts and generated a draft prompt to MyChart messages that the clinicians were able to edit and send. The pilot project is still in its infancy but generated a lot of interest among the leaders regarding its efficacy in providing quality and thoughtful responses and whether it will lead to significant time savings.

Addressing Burnout and Promoting Wellness

Physician burnout and the imperative to improve provider wellness continue to pose ongoing challenges that CMIOs are eager to address. Despite the shift away from the pandemic’s peak, the in-basket messaging rate and the challenges stemming from staffing shortages have not diminished. Informatics leaders are actively seeking innovative strategies to mitigate these issues and prioritize the well-being of healthcare providers. Margaret Lozovatsky, M.D., CHIO of Novant Health, spoke about the development of a wellness informatics specialty on her team that is committed to enhancing the efficiency of medical practice, an area that has been shown to contribute to professional fulfillment. By providing targeted individualized support, group training sessions and many asynchronous services the organization has decreased time spent on several administrative tasks, including notes and in-basket management.

Continued Evolution and Elevation of the CMIO Role

The role CMIOs play within organizations is continuing to expand and change. The diversity of topics presented, in addition to offline conversations, demonstrates the variety in disciplines and initiatives that fall under the CMIO’s purview. WittKieffer recently surveyed informatics leaders from across the U.S. on various topics including the evolution of the role. Over the last two years, 79% of respondents have seen an increase in their scope of responsibilities. Digital transformation and AI tools were the areas where responsibilities increased the most. (We were pleased to present initial findings of our survey at the AMDIS event and will share comprehensive results and analysis from this survey in the coming months.) Given the challenging environment which physician informatics executives operate today, they are experiencing high organizational demand and financial constraints that limit their ability to budget for projects and add new team members. One session that spurred a lot of discussion was around CMIO return on investment and how to best communicate the value generated by informatics leaders to outside stakeholders. This will be an important skill informatics executives need to develop in order to increase their resources, status and impact.

The wealth of knowledge shared during the AMDIS annual gathering served as a powerful reminder of the indispensable contribution made by CMIOs in overcoming healthcare’s hurdles and pioneering transformative solutions. With their dedication to improving clinical outcomes, driving research and innovation, and fostering provider wellness and efficiency, the CMIO continues to be a critical role.