Voice of Experience: Mercy Health Partners CIO Jim Albin

By Joshua Weinberger  |  Posted 2003-10-01
Manager's Profile: Jim Albin came to Toledo-based Mercy Health, a division of Catholic Healthcare Partners that operates hospitals in northwestern Ohio, three years ago. As chief information officer, he shepherded 4,800 projects in his Pacific Edge system last year.

What he faced: The technology department at Mercy Health was fused together from several hospitals, each of which had its own setup before a series of mergers 10 months earlier. Overloaded by project requests, priorities suffered.

The bottleneck: The old work-order system was antiquated. "Whenever somebody needed something, they just called the helpdesk and it became an activity," Albin says. "First thing we knew, we had unbelievable workloads, and no way to move the business forward."

Changing perspectives: Albin says project-portfolio management "helps me manage expectations. It tells our customers, 'We're a resource—just like personnel, or facilities, or capital. Take that into account when you're making decisions.'" And now?: "We've been able to improve customer satisfaction within I.T., and still reduce costs by $4 million," he says. "Customers can see where their projects are in the queues and eliminate phone calls checking status."

Getting the O.K.: Customers need approval "for anything related to technology," Albin says. "Once it's approved, it's routed to one of a number of [steering] committees, each one operated and executed in exactly the same way, and each one assigned resources."

No more monkey in the middle: "Customers understand how resources are being used," Albin says. "They know their consumption. When they need more resources, it's [their] committee leaders making the request," not the technology department. "This takes us out of the middle, which is where we'd be without the tool."