Thin clients pump new life into ailing hospital

In 2007, Quincy Medical Center, once an award-winning hospital in Boston, was floundering under the weight of mismanagement. The IT infrastructure was a mess. But then the fixer arrived.

Award winner: Ron Crall, former CIO at Quincy Medical Center

Award-winning project: Stretched hospital's capital budget to allow for the replacement of legacy equipment, to deliver wireless thin-client solutions supporting the upgraded Meditech operating system.

Hear from our award winner
Ron CrallListen in as Ron Crall talks with executive editor Kate Evans-Correia about his work while CIO at Quincy Medical Center.
Industry: Health care

Revenue: $100 million

Number of employees: 1,000

Time in job: Seven months

Educational background: Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration from Armstrong University in Berkeley, Calif.

First job: Assistant store manager for Goodyear Tire.

Best advice you've ever received: Sometimes you just have to make a decision -- good or bad.

Best career move: Moving into the technology field to become a junior programmer.

Biggest life influence: The fact that I was a recipient of one of the first pediatrics open heart surgeries in the world (at Children's Hospital in San Francisco). I was 9 years old at the time, and at 14 received the prognosis that I would live until I was about 40. As a 14-year-old kid that changes your perspective on life, and since then I've made the best of everything I could, including getting my pilot's license.

Award-winning IT
Why this project worked: By 2007, Quincy Medical Center, a national recognized, city-owned hospital until 1999, was floundering under the weight of mismanagement. The IT infrastructure was a mess. Staff was cut. We worked closely and methodically with stakeholders, including the board of directors, doctors, nurses and staff leaders, as well as vendors, to execute on building a modern infrastructure. We also worked closely with vendors to make sure we were using the best technology to meet our objectives. We had a well-defined project, solid leadership and a devoted team of professionals.

What the judges said: With limited resources, teams were built that worked together to support stakeholders' needs. The project, while not necessarily challenging technologically, was well planned and executed.

Best technology decision: Virtualization. A technology rollout required touching hundreds of desktops. A virtual desktop rollout allowed a single server-based image to be deployed to most of the affected users, tremendously reducing cost and user impact. Expansion of virtualization into the server space expanded the cost reductions and improved fault tolerance, disaster recovery and scalability. Sixty-four-bit computing will allow this technology to scale even better.

Biggest IT challenge: St. Joseph's had a budget that supported three old servers and a few hundred desktops. By reducing operating expenses and improving productivity, we stretched that budget to fund the creation of a world-class environment. Over and over again, high-yielding ROI projects allowed reinvestment in yet another round of high-ROI projects.

Best personality trait: Unwillingness to accept that something can't be done.

Worst personality trait: Unwillingness to accept that something can't be done.

Hobby: Remolding a 230-year-old farmhouse and turning it into a corporate retreat.

Alter-ego career: I would just mow lawns.

Current reading: Bill Gates' The Road Ahead.

Next big technology: Sixty-four-bit computing is going to make virtualization inevitable.

One word of advice to IT pros coming up the ranks: If they want to be a CIO they should keep their eye on business, not on technology. They need to be able to communicate with the business leaders and analyze their business needs as well as technology needs. Technology shouldn't be the primary focus of the CIO.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Kate Evans-Correia, Editor

2008 CIO Decisions Midmarket IT Leadership Award Winners
Larry L. Burwell: Profile | Podcast
Ron Crall: Profile | Podcast
Joseph S. Edward: Profile | Podcast
Oded Haner | Profile | Podcast
Jerry L. Hodge: Profile | Podcast
Kathy J. Lang: Profile | Podcast
David Mann: Profile | Podcast
Jim Mulholland: Profile | Podcast
Ram Murthy: Profile | Podcast
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