Naval med portal no longer just a pilot

Naval Medicine Online

After a successful pilot program lasting more than a year, Naval Medicine Online (NMO) has been recognized as a useful addition to the Navy's portfolio of online services.

Now that NMO has moved beyond the pilot phase to become what Defense Department officials call a program of record, sailors will begin to access their medical histories and control their medical files from a central Web portal.

Navy medical personnel already are using NMO for various purposes. It handles behind-the-scenes processes that support medical care, such as administration, finances, ordering, processing and tracking.

Additionally, NMO supports personnel readiness. It allows for immunization tracking and provides reports showing which individuals are medically ready for deployment.

The portal is designed to work seamlessly and transparently with Navy Knowledge Online, the Navy's enterprise training portal, and Tricare Online, a DOD-wide portal that caters to patients.

"Our initial target [group of users] was the members of Navy medicine — about 44,000 people," said Lt. Cmdr. Michael Whitecar, NMO's director and program manager. "The second target was the sailor — the warfighter — and the third was the beneficiaries, the dependents and family members of the warfighters."

The Military Health System's Tricare site allows service members, their families, reservists and retirees to make appointments for health care, build a custom Web page and personal health manager, enroll, file claims, order medicines and communicate electronically with health care providers.

NMO will work with Tricare so that Navy users can make appointments through NMO, but that application will actually reside with Tricare.

"We don't want people to have to go to Navy Knowledge for one part of their medical care and Tricare for another," Whitecar said. "Now, they can go to any of the three and they'll be transparently linked together for medical care."

Oanh Henry, senior project manager for NMO at Advanced Technology Systems Inc., the lead developer on the contract, said the program evolved to become something much larger than what was originally intended.

"We were directed to support e-health in collaboration with Tricare," Henry said.

The original plan to provide services for 40,000 Navy Medicine employees was transformed into a portal that the entire Navy could be use.

"It quickly became apparent that the expectations were much larger than we had anticipated," Henry said.

The old Navy Medicine Web site will be taken down and replaced by NMO, Whitecar said. Navy Medicine's site got about 7 million hits in July.

There was, however, some resistance within the Navy to the portal. The service's chief information officer, David Wennergren, would like to reduce the number of portals.

"Just as we have tens of thousands of legacy applications, we have hundreds of portals," Wennergren said at the National Defense Industrial Association's Navy Marine Corps Intranet conference in June in New Orleans.

Whitecar said initially some in the Navy balked at the need for a portal they assumed duplicated Tricare's.

Wennergren said the decision to reduce portals will not lead to a wholesale paring down of existing portals, as is being done with legacy applications. Rather, a combination of best industry practices and Navy practices will be adopted.

Henry said that philosophy makes sense for NMO. "The Navy can turn that around to consolidate other portals into a few comprehensive ones that offer interoperable services," she said.

NMO will begin its second phase — assisting sailors — during a trial aboard several ships in San Diego this month.

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