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One-on-One with CentraState CIO Neal Ganguly

March 11, 2008
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In this part of our interview, Ganguly talks about his impressions of HIMSS, along with Centra’s decision to switch from Meditech to Siemens.

CentraState Healthcare System is a private, not-for-profit health organization headquartered in Freehold, N.J. The system consists of the

CentraState Medical Center, an acute-care medical center licensed for 271 beds; the

Star and Barry Tobias Ambulatory Campus, a 171,000-square-foot outpatient center opened in late 2007; and t

hree senior living communities. Recently, HCI Editor-in-Chief Anthony Guerra had a chance to chat with CIO Neal Ganguly (also head of HIMSS New Jersey Chapter) about his accomplishments, challenges and goals.

AG: Tell me about your thoughts of HIMSS this year, any impression you had. Obviously, you mentioned you were just there for a couple of days.

NG: Overnight actually. I flew in very early Monday. So I was just down there for the night and spent the day, did some presentations at the Siemens booth on Monday, had some other meetings. And then Tuesday, I attended a bunch of CHIME focus groups in the morning and the lunch in the afternoon, and then I flew out. So I really didn’t get to enjoy even the show floor, which is typically what I like to do. I’m not big on the sessions. There is a lot of value in them, don’t get me wrong, but I send a lot of my people to those. I like to walk the show floor and kind of see where the trends are, what some of the vendors are starting to push to see if there are things that I think might be of value to our organization.

AG: I’ve spoken to some CIOs who say they hide their badges so they don’t get attacked. Do you do that?

NG: It depends. If there is a vendor I’d really like to talk then, of course, you kind of show the badge to get a little attention. But if you're just kind of surveying, it’s usually better — especially in the smaller booths, because they're just hungry. And you can get caught up in there for a good half hour sometimes if you don’t want to be rude. The floor has just gotten so large. I don’t know the exact number of vendors that are exhibiting now, but I’ve been going for the better part of the last eight or nine years, I guess, and it’s just gotten bigger and bigger and more difficult to navigate. You used to be able to do it in a day and now you need two days to do it.

AG: I’ve spoken to a number of CIOs who say the show is a bit too big for them now to really do quality networking, that they prefer the smaller CHIME events. Do you feel the same way?

NG: I do. I think the CHIME event is a much better networking event, particularly for CIOs. I think HIMSS still has great value for the rank and file. I think CIOs need to be kind of tied to HIMSS, and I’m glad that CHIME always has the spring forum just preceding HIMSS, so it gives you that opportunity to just kind of tag on a day to see some of your key business contacts. From a show perspective, in terms of the exhibit floor, CHIME doesn’t attract that kind of a presentation. It’s more networking.

AG: You just did a couple of days, and you think that’s pretty sufficient for your needs down there?

NG: No, this year really wasn’t. I needed to spend another day down there.

AG: So next time, you might do a little more time?

NG: Yeah, I think I will. I’ll probably try to spend two nights/three days and do a little bit better survey of the environment.

AG: Let’s talk about you a little bit and CentraState. Tell me when you took the job as CIO over there.

NG: August of 1999.

AG: Were you promoted internally, or did you come from another institution?

NG: I came from another place. It was a hospital slightly further north in New Jersey called Elizabeth General, which no longer exists. It’s now merged with a Catholic institution and became what's called Trinitas Health. So I left during that merger.

AG: How can you describe the work you’ve done, the things you’ve put into place? Tell me what you found when you arrived at Centra and where you've taken it today.