Fueling Behavioral Health Innovation and Growth With the Right Leadership: CTO (Chief Technology Officer)

Fueling Behavioral Health Innovation and Growth With the Right Leadership: CTO (Chief Technology Officer)

The digital transformation in healthcare is not only changing the way the system operates but it also impacts the roles and responsibilities of the members involved. One of which is the CTO or chief technology officer.

While the CTO position has been in place for years, the roles and responsibilities associated with it have expanded to cover new ground in recent years. 

In this article, we’ll expound on how this role has evolved and given CTOs a unique opportunity to influence innovation and growth within the company and beyond. 

Chief Technology Officer CTO | Jeri Davis

Chief Technology Officer (CTO): Definition and How To Become One

The chief technology officer, also known as CTO, is the highest technology executive position that is tasked to oversee the current technology and create policies revolving around it. That being said, a CTO must have business knowledge about new and existing technologies in the market and make the right implementation decisions that align with the company’s business goals.

Because of their impact and influence on the organization, the CTO is considered a C-suite executive. This is a term that’s used to describe high-ranking executives who play an instrumental role in an organization. In this case, a CTO is a C-level position because they have the power to embrace innovative technologies that can steer the organization toward improved performance and efficiency. As a result, the organization can better serve its patients and guarantee better results. 

How To Become a Cheif Technology Office (CTO)

Before anyone becomes a CTO, they must first obtain a bachelor’s degree in a computer science-related field. If they want to pursue a career as a CTO, many also opt to continue their education by getting a master’s degree in computer science or a mathematics-related field. 

Additionally, they need to have about 10 to 15 years of IT experience to acquire technical expertise. During their years in the field, they must demonstrate leadership and possess decision-making, business strategy, and management skills to become a successful and effective CTO. 

Skills Necessary To Become a CTO

Apart from the aforementioned leadership skills and business skills, other necessary qualities a successful CTO must have include the following:

  • Strong communication skills: Having strong communication skills is an important attribute for executives, including CTOs. they must be able to communicate their ideas, translate complex technical concepts into a compelling narrative, and speak in terms other business leaders can comprehend.
  • Anticipation of technology trends: With technology being the center of attention, CTOs must learn to anticipate not just the current technology trends but, more importantly, future technology solutions. They need to predict what new features, products, and challenges will arise so they can stay on top of developments.
  • Focus on people: Focus on technological trends notwithstanding, they must also center on people. After all, CTOs rarely work alone. They often collaborate with the chief executive officer (CEO), chief information officer (CIO), and a team of experts and technology professionals to come up with and implement strategies more effectively. Because of this, strong people skills are a must. 
  • Flexibility: Much like how technology constantly evolves, so too does the healthcare industry. For this reason, flexibility and adaptability are essential attributes a CTO must have to succeed in this field. They must learn to take on different roles and thrive in this ever-changing environment.
  • Discipline: Especially in the fast-paced healthcare setting, patience and discipline are key to success. Sometimes, strategies take months — if not years — to bear fruit. During that period, the CTO and their team must be disciplined enough to see their plans through to the end. In cases where pivoting to a new tech strategy is necessary, they must also determine the right time to do so and act accordingly. 
  • Pragmatism: There are countless types of technological equipment and software that offer a wide range of features. Knowing which features are practical and which are only nice to have is an important characteristic for a CTO. Since these innovations are an investment, identifying exactly what the organization needs at the moment is a practical skill every CTO must have.
  • Focus on outcomes: Because the success of technological implementations can be measured through business metrics, CTOs must have an outcome-centric mentality to ensure that the organization, as well as its patients, achieve the best results. 

These are the skills that make up an excellent CTO candidate. They should have a perfect balance between soft and technical skills so that their healthcare facility can thrive. On the one hand, they possess enough technical depth to advise the organization accordingly. On the other hand, they have strong communication skills, discipline, and a focus on people to ensure that the new technologies they recommend can address not just the company’s needs, but also its external customers or patients.

In the healthcare setting, ensuring that the patients receive the care they need is one of the top priorities for all C-suite members.

Business Administration | Jeri Davis

CTO Role and Key Responsibilities

As a high-ranking employee, the roles and responsibilities of a CTO are varied. Although their main focus is technology management and innovation, there are many more aspects of information technology that they have to oversee, such as those listed below. 

Research and Development

CTOs need to conduct research to discover what technological systems are currently available and propose which ones can help meet the behavioral health practice’s needs. In doing so, they must do the following:

  • Understand current trends and technology standards and comply with industry regulations.
  • Develop a strategy that monitors the use of technology within the organization.
  • Approve overarching technology infrastructure designs and communication systems to boost productivity and efficiency.
  • Develop IT assets and manage the use of technology along with the revenue associated with it. 

Tech Strategies

Once they have done their research, it’s time to move on to the next step — implementing tech strategies to enhance the practice’s day-to-day operations. This includes:

  • Monitoring technology and social trends that have the potential to influence the company’s goals. 
  • Determining risks and opportunities of the company’s technology resources within the behavioral health setting. 
  • Taking part in management decisions regarding corporate governance.
  • Implementing cybersecurity and data protection systems to safeguard the organization’s confidential patient information.
  • Collecting, analyzing, and reporting data to improve tech strategies in the future.

Other Responsibilities

On top of these responsibilities, a CTO must:

  • Communicate the tech strategy with partners, management, and employees.
  • Assist other departments to increase efficiency.
  • Stay on top of IT budgets.
  • Understand every patient’s needs so they can implement the right technology strategies.
Chief Technical Officer | Jeri Davis

Types of Chief Technology Officers

A CTO holds a wide range of responsibilities that can be summarized into four key roles. 

The Thinker

The thinker is a type of chief technology officer that helps set up the organization’s corporate strategies and fuel its technological infrastructure. The thinker creates business models, analyzes target markets, and conducts research to propose the proper technological solutions for the organization.

The Infrastructure Manager

The infrastructure manager oversees the company’s security, its data centers, and maintenance. While the thinker sets the company’s technology strategy, the infrastructure manager is assigned with implementing it.

The Strategic Planner

The strategic planner is a type of CTO that envisions how a particular technology can be incorporated within the company. They look at it from a different perspective and recommend implementation strategies to guarantee the organization’s success in providing the best healthcare services to their patients. 

The Patient Representative

In this role, the CTO acts as a bridge between the patient and the behavioral health facility. In other words, the responsibility of the CTO is to get a deeper understanding of what the patients need and integrate technological systems that target their concerns. 

How Can CTOs Fuel Behavioral Health Innovation and Growth?

Over the past few years, technology has become a vital aspect of making mental and behavioral healthcare more accessible to a wider audience. This shift can be seen through the rise of virtual coaching, virtual therapy, and the availability of various digital tools and EMR’s. 

However, the presence of technological innovation is not enough to enhance the behavioral healthcare system. The industry needs individuals like CTOs to find and implement new strategies within their respective organizations. 

The Evolving Role of a CTO in Healthcare

As the medical care system moves toward a patient-oriented, self-service model, the technologies that a CTO finds and implements in their healthcare facility must enable patients to have control over their personal experience. 

CTOs must find tech solutions from emerging technologies that give patients the ability to manage their time, schedule appointments, fill prescriptions, and engage with a healthcare provider. 

Because of this, a chief technology officer has the primary role of becoming an architect of the organization’s technological infrastructure. From mapping out the patient’s journey to providing services that meet their needs, a CTO is a key figure in the healthcare system’s move toward innovation and growth. 

Modernize Your Behavioral Health Organization With the Right Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

At this point, it’s clear to see the significant role a chief technology officer plays in the success of a healthcare practice. With this guide, you have a better understanding of what it means to be a CTO in the healthcare system and can find the best candidates for your organization. 

JDi and C-Suite Placements

Specializing in finding the right Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Chief Information Officer (CIO), or other C- Suite positions for you behavioral healthcare organization is what JDi and team have been doing for over 30 years.

CTO positions and leadership skills vary in behavioral healthcare. Average salary for a company’s Chief Information Officer will be based on their knowledge of technology resources, their ability to interface as a customer relations liaison with external customers and vendors, and the ability to to manage the technology strategy in place or develop one to take your organization to the next level.

JDi Healthcare Consultants and Recruiters understand the needs of behavioral health. We look forward to talking to help you find your next Chief Technology Officer (CTO).