by Michael Friedenberg

Computers Help Kids at Children’s Hospital

Nov 15, 20062 mins
Data Center

It always excites me when I hear of all the different ways CIOs are using technology either to innovate or to reshape their businesses. Save a couple million, make a couple million—that’s what you tell me almost on a daily basis. All of these efforts should be applauded, and it’s our job at CIO to report on your successes and failures as you do the heavy lifting of business transformation.

But, I have to be honest with you: Nothing compares to what I learned a few weeks ago on a visit to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. CHOP is one of the preeminent pediatric hospitals in the nation. Its business is helping sick children get well, and it’s impossible to assign ROI and TCO metrics to that kind of value proposition.

I was there because I had heard of a program in which CHOP installed thin-client computers in every room in the oncology ward. Tim Conners, manager of desktop engineering; John Donohue, health system director of technology solutions; Ellen M. Tracy, director of oncology and radiology nursing; and Charlie Enicks, senior VP and CIO, made the decision.

And it was based on care, not cost.

When a kid is stuck in a room fighting for his life, there’s only so much TV he can watch and so many books he can read. But a computer can help him explore the world, study his disease, communicate with friends, play games, do homework, connect with society. Can you determine the ROI of enabling these sick children to dream and to escape the daily grind of battling cancer? It’s big. That’s enough analysis.

It’s easy to get caught up in numbers. Bits, bytes, speeds, feeds, ROI, TCO, balanced budgets. It’s your job as CIOs to understand these metrics. But on that day at CHOP, it was refreshing to forget the numbers and see sick children smiling—all because of a computer.

To me, that’s truly transformational.

Michael Friedenberg is CIO’s President and CEO