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Suggestions for the Lab CIO

In the complex healthcare environment, there is always more to learn about any role within a lab. Recently, we had the opportunity to connect with thought leaders and technology experts at our CIO roundtable, and we came out with the following suggestions that we think can help the progress of the CIO role particularly:

Use Technology That Supports the Use of Data

In XIFIN CEO and Executive Chairman, Lâle White's opening presentation, she explained how financial data in the lab industry has been taken for granted, underestimated, and traditionally not preserved well. It is also often stored in a format that is not entirely usable. This is why technology needs to be able to support the real-time bidirectional sharing of data between entities both internally within your organization and externally. Lab technology also needs referential integrity of the data which will, in turn, build a foundation for business intelligence.

The fact of the matter is, you must marry your clinical data with all the other data in your lab in order to have a successful business. This means being able to store massive amounts of data indefinitely to be able to analyze it and make informed predictions about the market. However, it’s not just about increasing revenues for the lab. In the big picture, lab data has the ability to impact disease, condition, and outcome faster than just about anything else in healthcare.

Embrace Digital Transformation

The term Chief Information Officer was coined in 1981 by William Synott, an employee of the Bank of Boston who wanted a seat at the executive's table and wanted IT to be thought of as a profit center and not a cost center. To this day, many labs have trouble viewing the CIO in this light. The best way to move this initiative along is to get your company to embrace digital transformation.

Digital transformation started when information went from paper to digital and continues to advance exponentially every year. According to Sonny Varadan CIO, Sonora Laboratories, in order for the business to adopt digital transformation, the employee culture must change. This means employees have to become more digitally literate, and the CIO must push the company to prioritize the following key technologies:

Social Media

Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter give businesses new avenues through which they can communicate with existing and potential customers and help boost brand loyalty. As a CIO, you want to make sure you are in sync with your marketing department on all social media activity.


Connected devices are the basis for new business models and new services offered to customers. These days, it is not enough to have a website platform; 80% of people are on mobile devices, and often a mobile app is necessary to reach them.


Data is a byproduct of business. By analyzing it, companies can make smarter decisions and predict future behavior. Tools like AI and machine learning can make it easier to consume and act on it.


Data centers are increasingly becoming irrelevant and expensive. Cloud computing offers businesses a quick and flexible way to respond to changes in their markets and access important data.

IT personnel are now found in many different subsets of the company and are referred to as shadow IT groups. This means the CIO’s job of advancing digital transformation initiatives must include collaboration and cohesion with different departments.

Understand the Complexity of Security

In the healthcare space, it seems like a never-ending arms race between the security teams and the hackers, and too often hackers win. In her presentation, Vanessa Pegueros, Advisory Board Member at Vouched, pointed out that a contributing factor to this issue is that the Chief information security officer (CISO) and security team usually do not report to the correct position within the organization. Another factor is the massive amount of technological innovation that security has to keep up with.

Traditionally, the CISO reports to the CIO, and this can often present a variety of issues. In most cases, the CIO’s performance is based on moving the business forward with technology. This can often leave security initiatives unprioritized and lead to conflict in the organization which ultimately results in a short tenure for the CISO (average of 18 months). Because of this, it is wise to have the security team not report into a function that owns operational risk. So where does a CISO report? This is dependent on the organizational structure, but the chart below indicates some of the hierarchies that work well.

In addition to the organizational structure, Vanessa stressed that many security issues lie in excess information and technology. Over-reliance on tools before a thorough analysis of the issues at hand can cause congestion and end up backfiring. While tools for security are important, it is also key to be strategic in your approach and really identify where to allocate funds. This is easier said than done with the amount of new innovative technologies popping up every day, but is a crucial aspect of security that needs to be constantly focused on.

Looking for more tips on how to properly run your laboratory? Check out our white paper “The Laboratory Executive's Guide to Maximizing Revenue & Valuation”

Published by XIFIN
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