Sutter Health's Debbie Sleigh: saving lives because of fast access to information.Sutter Health's Debbie Sleigh: saving lives because of fast access to information.Debbie Sleigh
directs e-health and integration at Sutter HealthDebbie Sleigh
always wanted a job that mattered.She
grew up in Glendale, CA and attended California State University-Sacramento during the '80s as PCs were coming in. She graduated in 1983 with a BS in business admin and a concentration in production and ops, and received a masters in MIS in 1986.As part of her grad studies she worked for the data capture group at California's Employment Development Department offices. Her
first job in private industry was on a national helpdesk for tech support."We trained electrical warehousemen to use computers," she
From there she
went on to jobs of increasing responsibility - senior business analyst, senior system analyst, senior project manager, and manager of applications development for Vision Service Plan
(Rancho Cordova, CA).In 1999, she became an IT manager with Sutter Healthcare (Sacramento, CA). Sutter
is a not-for-profit healthcare system, with twenty-six affiliated hospitals plus physician organizations, research centers and other healthcare services.At Sutter, Sleigh
worked on some "incredible applications."She
moved up to director of integration services, then director of software services, and now director of e-health and integration solutions
The company's intensifying IT focus gave Sleigh
the opportunity to help develop the eHealth strategic plan - an online system that links patients with doctors in clinical and office settings, pharmacies and hospital admins.
"We have the ability to centralize our systems," Sleigh
explains."We already have more than eighty-five Internet sites for our affiliates and associated companies, and we're moving toward a full portal environment for patients and doctors."
The organizations under Sutter's auspices are becoming paperless, she
notes, with everything now charted online.Doctors can provide on-call service via the Internet, and patients recuperating at home can go online to watch videos on how to do their exercises.
The system is outfitted with the highest levels of state-of-the-art security to protect patient confidentiality, and, of course, its heart is its DBs, Sleigh
says proudly."We're saving lives because we have fast access to information." Sleigh
has a team of eight managers reporting directly to her; they have about 120 IT folks working for them."Our teams need to be very current," Sleigh
says."We're constantly negotiating with software developers and vendors to ensure that new apps will fit into our technical structure and architecture." Sutter Health
relies on SQL Server, Informix
and Oracle systems where possible, and uses Informatica, Crystal and Cognos as backend reporting tools.The company is currently working on an enterprise master patient identifier system that will further improve patient safety and quality of care. Sleigh
sees plenty of diversity within the company - women, people of many ethnicities, and "workers with a variety of disabilities," she
says."We deal with health problems on a daily basis, so we're not intimidated by them.
"In IT, it's easy to burn out quickly when you're always in project implementation mode, Sleigh