Cele has left the building
Date: October 7, 2010
After solving some of the toughest IT problems, Cecelia DiGiacomo leaves behind more than three decades of accomplishments.
With tens of thousands of patients admitted and hundreds of thousands of outpatient visits annually, it isn’t surprising that The Johns Hopkins Hospital faces a daunting task when it comes to recovering the revenue for the treatment it provides.
It’s no less amazing that Cecelia DiGiacomo looked such a formidable challenge square in the eye. Cele, as she’s more informally called around the institution, recently retired after 36 years with Information Technology—leaving a legacy of projects that improved patient support services.
And there was a lot of improving to be done. In the early 2000s, the patient registration and billing cycle was prone to costly errors, such as the misfiling of referral forms required by patients’ insurance providers. But an effective upgrade would require more than careful filing.
In stepped DiGiacomo, then senior director of information services. In a joint effort with the directors of a number of different departments, DiGiacomo helped save the hospital more than $50 million in revenue by standardizing the patient registration process.
Linda Kline, senior director of patient services, who worked with DiGiacomo on the initiative, says her colleague was particularly well suited to the challenge because of her ability to visualize how a new system would work in the long term. “She forces you to take a step back and really think things through to their conclusion,” Kline says.
Still, when she joined Hopkins as a documentation clerk in 1974, she had no idea she’d work her way up to become a senior director of IT. She was given a one-year policy and procedure writing project, and she initially expected that it would be the extent of her involvement at the institution.
But she soon found herself taking on a string of challenging new assignments. “The work was very interesting,” she recalls, “and there was always a problem to solve, a way to put technology to use to help people get their job done.”
Jim Hedeman, a senior director of information systems, says DiGiacomo’s commitment made her a unique leader. “She always acts with the interests of Hopkins at the bottom line,” says Hedeman, who worked with DiGiacomo for close to 40 years. “She’s a very personable, fun-loving individual, but when it comes to solving a problem, she’s been very committed, passionate, and professional.”
DiGiacomo plans to stay active in the Hopkins community by taking classes and doing some part-time consulting work. She’s also looking into volunteering for an environmental protection organization such as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
Kline says DiGiacomo will be missed: “She’s a really good mentor. A lot of people have worked for her over the years, and I think the amount of time that they’ve stayed had a lot to do with her leadership skills.”