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CIOs with U.S. Navy Medicine have plenty to discuss, such as HIPAA and IT security. But they're spread out over 77 hospitals around the world, so there hasn't been an effective way to share expertise. "We get together once a year, and that's basically where we did our collaboration," says Lt. Mike Whitecar, head of E-business services for the Navy's medical branch.
That changed in January when Whitecar used eRoom Inc.'s collaborative software to create CIO Today, an online community that lets the 77 CIOs at Navy hospitals share ideas with peers. The number of users has grown to 150, since CIOs at Navy dental facilities have started participating. CIO Today helps Navy CIOs avoid duplicating efforts by providing an expedient way to share information about development projects, Lt. Cmdr. Mike Green says. He recently retired from his post as CIO of the Naval hospital in Jacksonville, Fla., but will continue to use CIO Today in his new role as a Navy IT consultant.
Earlier this year, Green decided his hospital's health-care information system needed a Web interface. He posted a message on CIO Today and discovered that the San Diego hospital already had one that could be adapted. "It saves Navy Medicine time and money," Green says. Before CIO Today, he might not have known that San Diego had a Web interface. Green typically would have called the CIOs he knew best for input. He also could contact all of the Navy Medicine CIOs via E-mail, but sometimes those messages get lost, he says. Even if they're not at their computers, CIOs know when there's a new posting because their BlackBerry PDAs are linked to CIO Today.