Business Intelligence Department


If you work for CHRISTUS you know some about purple. Purple is so important at CHRISTUS Health that the strongest visual mark of success is for the sections on the Compass 2020 Map to be, not green, but purple. Then there’s the CHRISTUS Health symbol. The cross– a combination of a medical cross and a religious cross – and flowing banner on the cross is a common symbol of the risen Christ, while the royal purple signifies Christ. The flowing banner also conveys a sense of motion as we move forward into a new era of service to our communities.

We are surrounded by purple which had me thinking about looking closer to the color of purple’s meaning and why it is linked to what we do every day.  No, this is not meant to be an art history lesson.  It is just an opportunity to examine a color that is so closely linked to our work lives.  Did you know Purple combines the peaceful stability of blue and the fierce liveliness of red?  The color purple is often associated with nobility, power and ambition. 

There are a lot of meanings associated with the color purple, but have you heard the phrase “purple cow”? Unless you are in marketing or really love mid-19th century poetry you might not know the term “purple cow”.

The phrase is based originally on the Gelett Burgess poem “I Never Saw A Purple Cow. . .” written in 1895 and was picked up by a marketing expert named Seth Godin in 2003.

A “purple cow” is something that makes you really stand out, makes you remarkable (a GOOD thing that catches people’s attention), as opposed to a “gimmick”, that is, an inexpensive marketing trick.

Can you think of departments within CHRISTUS that are our purple cows? I can. No gimmicks here. They are the ones who look to make the green on our Compass 2020 Maps purple. One such department is CHRISTUS Health Business Intelligence (BI) Department.

A great example illustrating BI’s “purple cow” mentality is the creation of the No Wait ED Score Card. If you are not familiar with this tool, it is a visual way to see Emergency Room Performance data so that we can focus on excellence in patient care and address areas of opportunities.  It can be viewed at the system, regional and facility levels, even down to a specific campus emergency department. The data tells us how many patients are seen by a physician in 30 minutes, when our peak patient arrival times are and other keys to a successful patient experience in the ED. This Score Card tool would not be a reality without the work of the BI team.

BI is very much a technology driven process. But the numbers help present actionable information to help us at the bedside and help leaders make better decisions in everything from staffing to supplies.  The No Wait ED Score Card is just one of the many tools created by BI that is making a difference in how health care is delivered at CHRISTUS.

With 35 people on the team, from various backgrounds, most CHRISTUS BI Associates have advanced technical and IT skills. There are also those who are truly gifted on the business side of CHRISTUS.

There are basically three groups within the team.

  • There are the developers. (These are the programmers.)
  • There are the business analysts and project managers. (These are the ones who connect the developers to the business and the business need.)
  • There’s also leadership. (Those people responsible for motivating and delivering.)

Through a variety of software, discovery and analysis BI gives us much more than just the facts. They take the Health System’s temperature everyday making sure we have the opportunity to stand out and be a remarkable organization.

So, if you call BI our purple cow. They shouldn’t be offended.  In fact, being any kind of purple is really a big deal.

Jeff Egan who is the BI Data Architect and really proud of the work his team said, “I recently heard why ancient purple was associated with royalty.  Apparently it came from a dye produced by a certain type of snail.  Each snail only had a small amount; so it was very labor intensive to extract enough to dye a garment purple.”   All these years later and purple is still a really big deal!

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