Keeping sight on the task at hand

To help achieve its mission of providing quality healthcare service support worldwide, the U.S. Air Force Medical Service must maintain seamless coordination across many organizational levels. The AFMS runs 75 hospitals and clinics, providing care to more than 2.6 million beneficiaries.

States Lt. Col. James Whitlock, chief knowledge officer of AFMS, explains, "We must approach crafting policies and procedures with great care. Delivering medical services at home and abroad requires the right team, tools, tactics and strategy ... We must all work together to assign, draft, coordinate and deploy policies regarding often highly visible, very complex issues in short periods of time."

Whitlock says that the AFMS' previous system for dividing, coordinating and tracking requests as individual tasks fell short of its goals.

"Tasks were often misrouted or lost," he says. "Participants did not have visibility across tasks because work resided in individual inboxes rather than one secure location. More importantly, senior management couldn't see who was doing what. Accountability was problematic. Our challenge was a textbook case of a problem for BPM [business process management] to solve."

AFMS decided to adopt a new correspondence and tracking application known as SG/TASK, working with Evolvent Technologies to create the system, which incorporates BizFlow BPMS from HandySoft.

Geoff Howard, Evolvent CTO, says, "Despite the opportunity to save money by building a tasking application from scratch, we recommended a commercial, off-the-shelf BPM tool because of the risks involved. AFMS needed to work fast and deliver a rock-solid platform and framework on which to deploy and scale. Defining and designing process workflow ... involves complex rules, roles and responsibilities. And considering that during any project requirements always tend to shift and change, process management tools must be flexible enough to quickly adjust to additional rules, sub-processes and participants.

Five hundred officers, civilians and enlisted personnel at USAF Surgeon General staff directorates in four locations now use SG/TASK.

Whitlock says, "We use SG/TASK to track all sorts of questions, issues and tasks, but perhaps the best example is the coordination of policies and procedures. Consider our aeromedical evacuation mission. The U.S. military operates in very remote locations. When an airman or soldier is critically injured overseas, an incredibly complex process is required to treat and evacuate them back to definitive care in the United States. Patients literally have their own personal intensive care unit strapped to their stretcher. Medical and surgical services, logistics, training, legal, finance, etc. are involved. SG/TASK was created so that personnel across the Air Force Surgeon General's staff could quickly coordinate policies while never losing visibility into the task at hand."

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