Naval Medicine CIOs use collaboration and knowledge-sharing decision support application

by eRoom Staff

The Organization Environment

The U.S. Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED), located in Washington, D.C., is the headquarters for Navy Medicine and is responsible for overseeing the medical needs of more than 2.6 million active and retired U.S. Navy and Marine personnel. For BUMED, it is a mission that requires the coordination of services that range from direct patient care for military personnel and their families, to operational and fleet medicine, to medical research and dental care programs. BUMED manages more than 77 hospitals and regional service providers, in locations inside the U.S., as well as overseas-based military installations, combat field hospitals and Navy ships at sea.

The Naval Medical Information Management Center (NMIMC), in Bethesda, Md., is tasked with providing global information services to over 50,000 personnel within Navy Medicine. To this end, each hospital and medical facility is assigned a Chief Information Officer (CIO) led by the Navy Medicine Chief Information Officer (CIO). The CIO performs as facilitator of information, mentor, planner and project manager in the strategic direction of their jobs.

The Challenge

Managing the informational needs of the U.S. Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery is in many ways similar to the challenges faced by global businesses, with personnel, operational facilities and customers distributed throughout the world. Unlike a global business, however, BUMED must simultaneously manage its operations in both combat and peacetime conditions, on land and on the major oceans and waterways of the world.

The CIOs of the Navy Medical Department used a combination of annual meetings, e-mail, telephone and in-house delivery services to share information, formulate plans and make day-to-day decisions. E-mail collaboration, however, resulted in hard-to-track conversations that lacked context and re-usability. Telephone collaboration was also problematic, as time zone differences introduced complex working conditions that were difficult to sustain over an extended period of time. Annual meetings and other forms of paper-based collaboration introduced significant time delays, impacting project cycle times and time-to-productivity.

The CIOs in Navy Medicine recognized that they needed a better way to manage the collaborative activities that defined their business. They needed a better way to gather input and make decisions, create and share passive knowledge, trade experiences, mentor their workforce, as well as access external expertise and resources.

The Solution

The CIOs at Naval Medicine turned to the eRoom digital workplace solution as their platform for global collaboration and knowledge-sharing. The eRoom solution was chosen for its ability to support a wide range of organizational and end user needs, including:

  • Security - Offers a globally secure workplace that is easily managed by team participants. CIOs or other authorized personnel can control eRoom access down to the individual file level.
  • Rapid Deployment - With more than 100 CIOs located all over the world, the ability to access eRoom through industry-standard Web browsers was a big plus. Global installation and ramp-up was completed within days.
  • Distributed Management - Provides the CIOs with the flexibility they desire to create and manage their own forums. New processes and applications can be deployed, quickly and easily, without external resource involvement.
  • Centralized Access - Navy Medicine CIOs - from Bethesda, MD, to Asia to aircraft carriers and beyond - all have access to a centralized source of information that supports ongoing discussions and dialog.

Available on an around-the-clock basis, the eRoom solution enables BUMED personnel to track, manage and collaborate on documents and projects, engage in ongoing discussions, as well as streamline the processes that drive its services. From project and budget planning to pre-deployment exercises, the eRoom solution provides the virtual work environment for BUMED to unite its resources around the globe, enhancing organizational productivity and effectiveness.

Example of an eRoom discussion

“Whether staff members are at home or abroad, decisions must be made and projects moved forward,” said VADM Michael L. Cowan, surgeon general of the U.S. Navy. “Yet the complexities of staying on top of your business when people are constantly on the move are significant.”

The eRoom solution provides worldwide accessibility, low total-cost-of-ownership and open access to the applications and systems that support BUMED services.

According to Lieutenant Michael Whitecar, Head, eBusiness Services and Executive Assistant to the Commanding Officer at the Navy Medical Information Management Center, "We needed a method of gathering input and making decisions that recognized the distributed nature of our business. Security, as well as anytime, anywhere access, were at the top of our list, side-by-side with ease of collaboration and application flexibility."

The Results

Using the eRoom solution, NMIMC created CIO Today, a virtual work environment for Navy Medicine CIOs and their staffs. CIO Today provides a central gathering place that enables the CIOs to trade experiences, make acquisition decisions, discuss upcoming legislation, as well as manage the lifecycle of ongoing projects and assignments. Specific uses include:

  • Daily updates and alert notifications.
  • Strategic planning processes and decision-making.
  • Policy development and management.
  • Personnel issues and career management discussions.
  • Educational and mentoring forums for junior level CIOs.
  • Direct access to industry expertise and resources, such as Gartner Group analysis and recommendations.

The ability to collaborate with peers on a daily basis has had a significant impact on the CIOs daily work efforts, reducing project turnaround times and costs. According to Lieutenant Whitecar, "With eRoom, our CIOs accomplished more work in one month than we had in the entire year prior to its use. It's fast, flexible and a great way of bringing together large teams of people to increase the quality of the work products that define our business."

“One of the greatest challenges global organizations face is how to bring together three key areas - the work, the team and the workplace - in such a way as to create real strategic value,” said Jeffrey Beir, president and chief executive officer for eRoom Technology, Inc. “As a company, we have faced this challenge head-on, delivering state-of-the-art collaborative solutions to the world’s most demanding customers. We are pleased to be working with BUMED as they deploy the eRoom solution to increase the efficiency of their medical services operations.”

About eRoom Technology

eRoom Technology is a leading provider of Internet-based software and services for collaboration among an organization's extended enterprise of employees, customers, suppliers, and other partners. The company's eRoom product provides a digital workplace for the extended enterprise, allowing organizations to quickly assemble a project team wherever people are located and manage the collaborative activities that support their complex and rapidly-changing business projects and processes. Customers use eRoom digital workplaces to help get products to market faster, drive down production costs, enhance customer relationships, and improve the work products that drive their businesses. The eRoom solution is used by more than 600 companies.

Questions for Analysis and Discussion

  1. What was the motivation for trying to improve collaborative activities at BUMED?
  2. What is a "virtual work environment"?
  3. What technology is used to implement eRoom system?
  4. What category of DSS would the eRoom application at BUMED fit into? Explain and justify your answer.
  5. What are major benefits claimed for the eRoom solution implemented to support BUMED?
  6. Do you anticipate any problems with the eRoom system? If so, explain them.

For more information about eRoom Technology go to

Pam Sullivan at eRoom provided permission to use this case study at DSSResources.COM on Thursday, July 25, 2002. This case is based on a shorter case at and a press release of March 4, 2002 titled "U.S. Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Standardizes on eRoom Solution For Global Collaborative Initiatives". Also, check article by Sandra Swanson, "Navy CIOs Close Communication Gap," Information Week, July 24, 2002. Posted at DSSResources.COM August 2, 2002.

eRoom Staff, "Naval Medicine CIOs use collaboration and knowledge-sharing decision support application", eRoom, Inc., 2002, URL DSSResources.COM.

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