Rich Temple – Deborah Heart and Lung Center

Applying technology and information systems to achieve patient satisfaction
Written by: 
Tom Faunce
Produced by: 
Sean O'Reilly

Deborah Heart and Lung Center is committed to providing the necessary facilities, equipment, medical staff and financial resources required to deliver the highest quality inpatient and outpatient services for the diagnosis and treatment of heart, lung and vascular disease. With the cost of health care continuing to increase, Deborah partners with quality providers and payers to ensure a seamless continuum of care to the patients it serves.

Rich Temple – Deborah Heart and Lung Center

A streamlined process

Realizing how information technology plays a strategic role in the operation of a health care facility, Deborah has recently taken a new approach to IT by adding a chief information officer position to its administration team. With his visionary approach to applying technology and information systems to the health care field, Deborah brought on Rich Temple as the company’s first chief information officer.

Reporting directly to the CEO, Temple feels that his position as chief information officer, rather than a director of IT, allows for an enterprise perspective around technology. Officially a member of the administration, Temple is privy to strategic discussions across the board. “So far it has been both fun and gratifying,” says Temple.

With a career in the health care information technology field that spans more than three decades, Temple began his career as a vendor for McKesson Corporation, a medical supply, health care IT and pharmaceutical distribution firm. After working for McKesson for a number of years, Temple became the chief information officer for a hospital in New Jersey before moving on to a similar position for a long-term care facility.

“Long-term care was kind of a different spin on health care,” says Temple. “At that point there was a lot of historical change going on with the Obama administration pushing the meaningful use of health care technology. It presented incentives for doctors and hospitals [but not long-term care facilities] to embrace new technology.”

Feeling as though he was on the outside looking in, Temple felt the desire to get back into working with hospitals and became a health strategy consultant. After a few years in this position, Temple again felt the pull to work directly in the health care provider space. “After my consulting stint, I was once again intrigued by the opportunity to directly impact a health care organization in a positive way through the wide use of technology,” recalls Temple. “The opportunity with Deborah presented itself not just as a consultant position, but as one that would be for the long haul.”

In addition to winning numerous awards for patient satisfaction year in and year out, Deborah is unique in that it is one of three health care facilities in the country that does not balance bill its patients. “We help anybody regardless of their ability to pay,” says Temple. “This is in line with our founder’s belief and mission when she started Deborah, which is that there should not be a price tag on life.”

The role that technology initiatives play in the company’s mission cannot be overstated. In an ever-changing health care world, the need for robust health care analytics is higher than ever and presents a demand for innovations in reviewing data and converting it into information. The application of advanced electronic health record technology is crucial to obtain and store the private information of the right patient at the right time.

“Because we do a lot of complex, high-acuity work, we have a lot of unique imaging systems and perform a lot of experimental procedures,” shares Temple. “The documentation for those procedures needs to be relevant. We’re striving to move toward remote monitoring and working with patients more holistically to help them stay well, which of course is very important to our strategy.”

IT with a purpose

The metric used by Deborah in measuring the success of its mission lies in feedback from patients. In March 2016, Deborah received Top Hospital recognitions from Inside Jersey Magazine. The health care facility was ranked No. 1 in the state for hospitals with less than 350 beds in terms of patients being highly satisfied in post-discharge ratings and communication from doctors and nurses.

The amount of patient satisfaction that Deborah receives is one of the most inspirational factors in Temple’s work. “Knowing that we’re making a difference and taking care of patients is very important,” he shares. “That’s what gives me the biggest sense of pride when I walk through the door every day.”

When he’s not heading up IT projects, Temple enjoys traveling and attending live music events. As he settles into his new position with Deborah, Temple plans to revamp the way the company deploys IT in the health care field. By remaining on the cutting edge of technology and information systems, Temple and Deborah Heart and Lung Center will continue with a holistic approach to achieving patient satisfaction.

Strategic Partnership(s): 
Advanced Micro