A chief medical officer, or CMO, is a physician who is responsible for the performance of physicians and other medical staff under her supervision. The CMO is often held accountable for the quality of care provided in an organization. The term medical director is often used interchangeably with chief medical officer, but a medical director can have more limited responsibilities. A CMO typically has authority for multiple units, departments or divisions.
A CMO’s duties vary from one organization to another. In many cases, the CMO has both administrative and clinical responsibilities. One critical function of the CMO is to act as the liaison between administration and the medical staff. This individual may supervise the medical staff or medical directors who report to him, and other clinical staff members as well. CMOs are members of the senior management team and usually report to the chief executive officer or to the board of directors. In many organizations, CMOs are responsible for recruiting physicians, and they also oversee the credentialing and privileges of all staff physicians. They participate in strategic planning, provide performance guidance to the medical staff, and may be responsible for developing personnel and other budgets. Some also handle community relations for the medical staff.