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One-on-One with Saint Clare's Health System CIO Richard Temple, Part II

May 16, 2008
by root
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In this part of our interview, Temple says tapping the benefits of a large organization requires "getting on the bandwagon."

Saint Clare’s Health System — with four Northwestern New Jersey hospital campuses — is one of the largest employers in the area, with 3,500 total employees, over 700 volunteers and a medical staff of over 700. In April, the system began a major transition, as it was acquired by Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), the nation’s second largest Catholic health system. Recently, HCI Editor-in-Chief Anthony Guerra had a chance to chat with CIO Richard Temple about how the transfer will affect IT.

Part I

AG: Now, in your system, you’ve got four hospitals and you have an integrated database for all patient records?

RT: All the clinical information is in one database and all our financial information is…we have a clinical data warehouse, we don’t have an enterprise-wide data warehouse, we have financial data sitting in one place; the Cerner data warehouse, we have a merit system we run there, what we call Power Insight, which is basically Business Objects, Cerner side on steroids. We run our reports off our clinical database. So, we really do have a CDW on the clinical side and we have easy access. We’re not lacking for information. Trying to get the information out in as efficient way as possible is sometimes a challenge. But the information is there and we have the tools to extract it.

AG: Is CHI trying to do that same model on a much, much larger scale? You mentioned their data center in Colorado. Are they trying to have all their hospitals with a single data repository?

RT: It’s being discussed.

AG: That would be quite a project. And then your data, which now is one database for four hospitals on the clinical side, would essentially become part of their larger data that could include data from 40 hospitals, or whatever the case may be.

RT: CHI does have a couple of deliverables that we have to use on a regular basis, that they use for loading into a giant data warehouse. CHI does have a data warehouse. It’s mostly claims-like data, but it’s a pretty robust data warehouse and they do all manner of different reporting on that. They do outcomes reporting from that; they do for the Healthstream Survey; there’s a lot of different things they do, based on the data that we send them. So they’ve got a pretty nifty business intelligence system that they’ve created. All the hospital systems throughout CHI are required to send in a periodic file that can comprise a lot of demographic and claims-data history.

AG: How do you think, personally, your job is going to change?

RT: It will definitely change because I’m going to be involved much more at a national level than I was. The notion of what we’re trying to do here is to be able to centralize. Centralization makes people nervous. We’re trying to create a single IT department with tentacles in the different markets, and that’s going to require standardization. That’s going to require normalization; it’s going to require building and standardized policies and procedures that apply across the board, and it’s going to mean that certain people are going to have to jump on some national bandwagons for certain things. So there are going to be impetuses to do things that we wouldn’t have had before.

We’re going to be part of something bigger that opens up a lot of doors to us, to be able to tap in and do things, but part of that is that we have to be able to, if possible, be part of what CHI has deemed to be the CHI standard.

AG: It sounds like in your voice that you’re pretty excited about this, probably professionally; this may open some doors for you and give you a bigger stage on which to show what you can do. Is that accurate?

RT: I would say I am excited about it.

AG: Is there any degree of that things are on hold, or are you full steam ahead and, if so, tell me about some of the major initiatives you’re working on.

RT: We’re not really taking on any new projects at this point, but we do have a lot of project irons in the fire, and we can continue to move forward with those. Even as we go through this very transformational change to become part of CHI, and the secondary change to become part of CHI’s one IT structure, we still have a department to run, we still have our customers that we have to make happy, and we have a shop that has to continue to provide excellent service. At no point can we run away from that, even as we have these external factors that are buffeting us right now.