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This profile was last updated on 8/14/15  and contains information from public web pages and contributions from the ZoomInfo community.

Senior Vice President, Informatio...

Phone: (617) ***-****  
Email: d***@***.org
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Inc
93 Worcester Street Suite 100
Wellesley , Massachusetts 02481
United States

Company Description: Harvard Pilgrim provides health care coverage in Massachusetts and Maine and is the parent company of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care of New England, which serves...   more

Employment History

Board Memberships and Affiliations

  • Board Member
    Charm Medical Supply
  • Treasurer
    Charm Medical Supply
  • Board Member
    ARC Massachusetts


  • MBA
    University of California at Berkeley. She
  • BS degree
    University of Massachusetts
  • MBA
    University of California at Berkeley
27 Total References
Web References
Board of Directors, 2 Oct 2014 [cached]
Deborah Norton Chief Information Officer
Deborah Norton - Treasurer
Deborah Norton is the Chief Information Officer, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. 
Deborah was appointed CIO for Harvard Pilgrim in January 2002, and was given additional responsibilities for Operations in September 2005.  Her responsibilities include the 5-year IT Strategic Plan, and she also oversees Harvard Pilgrim's long-term information technology and claims-services outsourcing agreement with Dell Services.
In her prior role as Vice President of Corporate Information Management, Norton spearheaded a complete revamping of Harvard Pilgrim's information architecture and reporting capabilities, which is key to the successful relationship between Harvard Pilgrim and its constituents.
Before joining Harvard Pilgrim, Norton served as Vice President of Quality Improvement and Risk Management at Newton-Wellesley Hospital and prior to that she managed their Hospital Information Systems.  Deborah received a BS degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and an MBA from the University of California at Berkeley.  She and her husband live in Brookline and they have two children
Oracle: Industry Connect: Global Business Units: Finance: Breakout Sessions, 23 Dec 2013 [cached]
Deborah Norton, CIO, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
In this presentation, HPHC CIO Deborah Norton describes the business and technology strategies used to ensure that HPHC will be successful in a multistate environment, operating several business models simultaneously. She discusses using mandates as opportunities, the role of collaboration, transitioning from a traditional waterfall environment to an agile delivery model, creating flexible architectures including service-oriented architecture, and partnering with strategic vendors interested in HPHC's success.
2012 Top Private Company CIOs - ExecRank - The Leading Authority on Executive Rankings, Lawyer Rankings & More, 8 Oct 2013 [cached]
152. Deborah Norton, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Inc.
HealthLeaders - HealthLeaders Magazine, 1 Oct 2005 [cached]
When Deborah Norton left a hospital job to join Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Inc. in 1999, she figured it would be "a nice gentle ride."Being an IT executive in the hospital setting was, she explains, stressful.Not only that, her new employer had landed on the cover of Newsweek, which touted Harvard Pilgrim as the "best HMO" in the country.But Norton's dreams of a cushy glide-into-retirement job were short-lived.Shortly after she joined the nonprofit payor as director of finance for the Massachusetts region, she learned the awful truth.The Wellesley, Mass.-based health plan, the result of a series of mergers, was in deep financial trouble.After revisiting its books, Harvard Pilgrim revealed that it had lost $227 million in 1999, the year it outsourced the majority of its IT operations to Plano, Texas-based Perot Systems Corp.In hindsight, the plan "did not have the level of cultural and technical integration needed for a successful merger," she says.
But the ever-optimistic and hard-charging Norton took the bad news in stride.Rather than bail out, she became the vice president of corporate information management in 2000 and dove head-first into a series of information technology projects that helped the struggling payor get back on its feet after it had plunged into receivership.Corralling the talent of the Perot staff, she helped complete the installation of a consolidated financial management system, one that would keep more accurate tabs on the payor's revenue stream and expense centers.Its old financial system contained two different general ledgers, representing the plan's premerger forebears, Harvard Community Health Plan and Pilgrim IPA.Reconciling the two was a complex undertaking that resulted in the plan's failure to understand its own financial condition, Norton explains.With the new financial system from Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle Corp., Harvard Pilgrim can now analyze its revenue and claims streams easily, Norton says.
In addition to the financial system upgrade, Norton helped launch a Web-based, self-service feature called HPHConnect.The service enables members, employers and care providers to initiate many transactions on their own across the Internet, cutting back on call center traffic.For example, physician offices use the system to determine patient eligibility, check benefit levels and check on claims status."It is cheaper and more efficient than having doctors' offices call us," Norton says.
After her boss left in 2002, she was promoted to chief information officer, assuming responsibility for nearly 800 employees (including Perot staff) and an annual budget of $102 million.As CIO, Norton began rebuilding the organization's massive data warehouse, a storehouse of financial and medical information generated on behalf of Harvard Pilgrim's 888,128 members.
Norton's crew has moved the warehouse from its cumbersome mainframe environment, which required an extraordinary amount of customized code to transfer data.A five-stage effort with a $32 million price tag, the data warehouse project is still under way.When complete by early 2007, the data warehouse will enable staff to create their own reports, analyzing claims to a degree that was impossible before, Norton says.
Now, with Harvard Pilgrim's financial woes long forgotten, Norton sits comfortably perched atop its IT operation.She shrugs off the notion that there is anything special about her leadership role in a male-dominated field.Leading a meeting of Harvard Pilgrim's Technical Infrastructure Steering Committee (composed of 13 men), Norton easily blends in with the "computer guys," conversing fluently in techno-speak,she learned programming while acquiring her MBA,and laughing heartily at the wonky humor shared by network analyst types.
For example, when the discussion turns to the sudden demand for network access tokens,devices that flash an ever-changing ID number needed to log into Harvard Pilgrim's network remotely,one IT staffer dryly suggests a solution: Hand out dummy tokens to the people who are asking for them, he says, implying that these would-be users are more interested in having the token as a status symbol than actually logging on remotely.The comment sparks howls of laughter from the committee members.
When the laughter subsides, however, all eyes turn to Norton.She understands the broader business issues that lie beyond the domain of programmers who spend their days hunched before computer monitors.She's the leader who knows how to communicate often-cryptic IT subject matter in English."We will need to come up with criteria for who gets one of these toys," she says, referring to the tokens,many of which will be used by vendor partner staff who need access to the network to run test programs.The access need is legitimate, even though it creates more work for the IT crew.
Nevertheless, Norton reminds the group that even vendor staff who gain access to Harvard Pilgrim's network must still adhere to the payor's "zero-tolerance" security guidelines, which regulate Internet use.For Norton, it's just one of the countless details that informs the maintenance of a modern health plan's infrastructure.
Priority 1 Installing a UnitedHealth Group platform
Harvard Pilgrim is turning to the UnitedHealth Group for its core administration system, which is, as the metaphor-mixing Norton says, "the big megillah, like a heart and lung transplant."A $100 million project set for completion by the end of 2008, the migration to a new membership system was foisted on Norton out of necessity.Harvard Pilgrim's 10-year-old membership system, from Rockville, Md.-based Amisys Synertech Inc., runs on a soon-to-be-defunct operating system from Palo Alto, Calif.-based Hewlett-Packard Co.To make matters more complicated, Norton says United's existing platform is better suited to meeting the needs of consumer-directed benefit plans, those tangled insurance packages that call on members to foot more of the healthcare bill.
United's front end will make life much easier on Harvard Pilgrim's call center staff, Norton adds."Today, if you are a member services rep, you need a Ph.D. to use our system.You have to go through six to eight subsystems just to answer members' questions.The United platform makes it easier to collect and cull information."
Coincidentally, Norton was in the final phases of selecting a new core administration system before United even popped up as a candidate.Harvard Pilgrim had been in discussion with the Minneapolis-based plan about a joint marketing program, she explains."As we came to understand United's capabilities to serve this arrangement of joint marketing, the light bulb went off," she says."They are a slick technology operation."
United will host the administrative system remotely from data centers in New York, New Jersey and Minneapolis.Because the application is hosted, Norton's crew will not have to install upgrades."We can leverage United's spending on its own technology," says Norton, who will migrate Harvard Pilgrim's business to the new system on an account-by-account basis as plans are renewed.
Priority 2 Finishing the data warehouse
As it nears completion, Harvard Pilgrim's data warehouse symbolizes just how far the payor has come since its days of insolvency.With interfaces to its Amisys system, the payor's old warehouse was a cumbersome piece of IT machinery that required considerable labor to maintain, Norton says.
Rather than do that, once a year Norton assembles her top IT managers at a daylong retreat at her beach house in Manomet, Mass.There, the IT team huddles, reviewing wish lists from managers across the organization and assigning costs to them."We do not have cocktails until we have the numbers," says Norton.The senior leadership of Harvard Pilgrim then decides what must be done.Norton estimates that Harvard Pilgrim spends about $14 million annually on infrastructure costs.
When Harvard Pilgrim's Amisys system crashed for 10 days in 2003, it cemented Norton's focus on network uptime and security.The Amisys crash was likely occasioned by an interface that malfunctioned, explains Norton, who worked 20-hour days during the outage.In contrast, network security can be undermined by outside forces beyond her control.
That's one reason Norton staged a wide-scale network outage in the summer of 2004, when the Democratic National Convention was taking place in downtown Boston and the Red Sox were chasing the pennant in nearby Fenway Park.It would be just such a time, she reckons, that a terrorist attack might take place.And with Harvard Pilgrim's primary data center just a stone's throw from Fenway, the simulated outage was more than a mere academic exercise.In the exercise, Norton's IT crew in Harvard Pilgrim's backup data center in Quincy had to get the payor's entire operating platform up and running after an imaginary dirty bomb wiped out the Fenway data center.
Key lesson?"We were not prepared for a bomb or fire," Norton says."We were
BrightStar Partners, Inc - IBM Cognos Professional Services, Training, and Support [cached]
Deborah Norton, CIO, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
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