ORLANDO, Fla.-- As legislative changes, industry consolidation and an increasingly digital economy push today’s health care CIO to innovate and disrupt like never before, today’s successful chief innovation officers are cast from a new mold: They’re CIOs 3.0.

At least that was the term that approximately 800 health IT leaders at this year’s CHIME Fall Forum favored. As CIO 3.0s bridge the gaps between the clinical sides and the C-suites of their organizations — and learn to challenge the status quo in the process — they’re tasked with “not just watching change happen but guiding the strategy,” said CHIME President and CEO Russell Branzell.

In an era when hospitals and health systems must balance everything from relentless cyber threats to changing payment models and regulatory mandates to integrating delivery systems, that strategy is going to be subject to change. “We don’t know exactly what the industry will look like in 2020,” said Timothy Zoph, senior vice president at Northwestern Memorial Healthcare, “but we can tell it’s going to be a period of discontinuity.”

Zoph said that means it’s the CIO’s job to step in and work out the potential kinks. According to a survey of 123 hospital CIOs Zoph and Christi Health CIO Donna Roach oversaw, respondents saw change management as the most important skill a CIO could have. “[A CIO needs] to be the person who actually stands up and delivers results,” Zoph said. “Your experience is too valuable to be on the sidelines. It’s going to become a core requirement of your job to be seen as a change leader in your organization.”

According to the rest of the C-suite, change management often means that CIOs must create strong personal networks throughout their organizations and utilize them effectively, Roach said. They must learn how to approach both the “resistors and fence sitters” and bridge that "gap between the clinical folks in the organization and bring that to the inside table.”

Zoph and Roach urged the CIOs at the conference to survey their own executive teams about what qualities they were expected to deliver, emphasizing the importance of getting on the same page as job descriptions evolve.

“It’s important to acknowledge that the skills have gotten us where we are today may not be the skills that we need to take us to the next level,” Zoph said. “If there was ever a time to align the expectation of technology in the leadership role, the time is now.”