University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust’s director of informatics has been elected chair of the Health CIO Network.

Daniel Ray will head the national network for chief information officers and other health information leaders, which was officially launched in November last year at EHI Live 2013.

As the elected chair he will, together with vice-chair Christine Walters IT director at Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, set objectives and provide input into regional and national events, including an annual conference and a summer school.

Speaking to EHI about his new role, Ray said he was “extremely pleased and very excited” to be chair of “such an important network”.

The Health CIO Network will act as a platform to give health CIOs greater professional recognition, to build a shared identity, and to influence national policy and business issues that affect healthcare IT.

“I want to make it a really successful network and we need to focus to get there,” said Ray. “The most important thing to me is being an influential voice over health informatics policies in the centre.

“There’s strength in numbers. If we have one central voice on how NHS informatics can be best supported from the centre, it becomes more powerful. Hopefully it makes policy making easier and we can get a collective voice.”

He also emphasised that the newly named National Information Board, previously the Informatics Services Commissioning Group, will be a key contact for the network.

“I see the Health CIO Network building interactions with the National Information Board. That’s one of the key interactions and talks we need to have,” said Ray.

His ambition is to make the network an important focus point for IT directors who can gain and share knowledge with each other.

“The key to the success of it is everybody being able to extract knowledge and expertise and sharing that with the network,” he said.

 “IT directors and CIOs have a lot to do, but I want to get to a point when they see ‘Health CIO network phone call’ in their diary they make sure they are available for it.”

The network will also promote benchmarking and collaboration between trusts, enabling them to exchange ideas and examples of best practice.

“I think that the CIOs in different hospitals are all at different stages in delivery of their EPR strategy and each hospital has done well and excelled in a number of areas another organisation hasn’t,” said Ray.

“However, that organisation might have done better in another area which the first needs to improve in, so the network might help us to move our EPR strategies forward with better value, with greater precision and vigour.”

The Health CIO Network is open and free to all information leaders and builds on the success of the inaugural health CIO annual conference which was held in partnership with NHS England at EHI Live 2013.

The next network event is the power of collaboration, a networking event with CHIN, on 25 March. The event will bring together key people and organisations to share ideas on moving the digital health agenda in the North East forward.