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One-on-One with Eisenhower Medical Center CIO David Perez

May 7, 2008
by root
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As a former consultant, Eisenhower’s David Perez knows CEO support goes a long way to CIO success.

Eisenhower Medical Center is a not-for-profit healthcare institution consisting of the 289-bed Eisenhower Hospital, the Betty Ford Center at Eisenhower, the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center at Eisenhower, and the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences at Eisenhower. Situated on 130 acres in Rancho Mirage, Calif., the medical center has provided a full range of medical and educational services for more than 30 years for residents and visitors to the greater Coachella Valley. Recently HCI Editor-in-Chief Anthony Guerra had a chance to talk with CIO David Perez about his work.

AG: You responded to our offer about the Virtual Hospital Tour. Just out of curiosity, what are you interested in highlighting with the photographs?

DP: I think we really want to emphasize the doctors and the nurses using the technology. A few years ago we went live with bar coding at the bedside, and we will soon be up on a new system. We’re going to switch it. The patients even think that it’s cool, and they feel that there is some safety mechanism in that they are triple-checking before they're given the medication. I want to show clinicians in front of devices to make the point that they can take care of patients, even though we have moved them to the technical world.

AG: So definitely having the people in the pictures using the technology.

DP: Right. We’re fortunate that we have a PC in every room, but we also have the computers on wheels; for example, our rehab services, all our physical therapists and even in the outpatient area, where those therapists will have their own PC devices. We don’t know if we’re going to give them laptops or we’re going to give them handheld or if they're going to use carts. We have a fairly good sized physical therapy room with all the equipment, the weights and the bedding and all that, and those clinicians too will be documenting.

AG: When did you take the job as CIO over there?

DP: Six years ago.

AG: And where did you come from? Were you a CIO somewhere else?

DP: I was working for a consulting company for 14 years (Superior Consultant Company).

AG: What was it about this position that drew you? Were you looking to become a CIO at a hospital?

DP: When I arrived here, I was not looking for any permanent position. I came in actually as a consultant. I was brought in to basically turn the department around. I had the directive that I would probably be here 18-24 months. When I initially arrived, I had no intention of staying permanently or taking on a job with Eisenhower. Shortly after my arrival, I saw that things were definitely different here. In my healthcare career, I’ve had the opportunity to work at over 44 different hospitals in United States. I’ve worked at places that range from a 33-bed hospital to 550-bed hospital. There was a uniqueness here at Eisenhower that caught my attention. And so when the CEO asked if I would stay on permanently, I accepted that opportunity.

AG: And what was the difference? Was it their openness to implementing new technologies?

DP: Exactly. We have a CEO that is a proponent of information technology. He wants us to do a lot when it comes to information systems and technology. He has gained the board’s approval to spend the capital that we have spent thus far since I have been here. My current project is an $18 million project, as far as the systems we’re currently replacing and/or that are new. When I first arrived, we were on a $12 million project and we have completed that project, and now in six years, I’m on my second major project, and this one is $18 million.

AG: Having worked at all those hospitals, you must have been at places where you saw CEOs that did not have that attitude. How difficult is it for a CIO to function in an environment where the CEO doesn’t see the value or doesn’t see the need to fund IT the way the CIO may feel it should be funded?

DP: It’s extremely difficult or it doesn’t function at all. I have been in those cases where the CIO or the IS director never really even had face-to-face time with the CEO. So it is extremely difficult to move beyond your normal day-to-day systems that you have, and some departments are just barely making it where there is no budget for IT growth or IT education. And as I said, there was a difference here completely in that our CEO honestly believes in it.

AG: I spoke to another CIO recently at a hospital in California who was also a consultant who wound up getting hired as a fulltime CIO. Do you think this is a common occurrence, and do you think this is perhaps a tactic for hospitals looking to bring on a CIO, to bring in a consultant and see if they work out, as a test run?


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