FORT SAM HOUSTON, TEXAS - Entering the impressive cyber work space, you're struck by the fact that this looks like a call center; and indeed it is. But this isn't just any call center. This is the U.S. Army Medical Information Technology Center's (USAMITC) Enterprise Service Desk (ESD), whose goal it is to provide outstanding customer service and information technology assistance.

USAMITC, being the information technology service provider for all U.S. Army hospitals and clinics worldwide, supports Army Medicine 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year by providing direct information technology support to customers who are comprised of Army medical personnel: doctors, nurses, hospital staff and any other medical professionals who are located at U.S. Army hospitals and clinics worldwide and anywhere within the Department of Defense. All told, this is an impressive service rendered to the 80,000 customers, or end users, who use the ESD services.

This mission is accomplished by USAMITC's Enterprise Service Desk, which is the information technology helpdesk for Army hospitals and clinics from anywhere in the world. "The ESD handles incidents and service requests, and it promotes a smarter, more efficient way of doing things through improved processes and shared knowledge," said Mr. Joseph Nystel, USAMITC's ESD Operations Manager. He said an incident is anything causing an interruption or reducing the quality of service; whereas service requests are requests for something new or requests to change something. "The ESD's mission is to support the Army Medical Department's desktops by providing remote desktop support and to be the window or central point for these customers to report any and all IT issues from around the world. The ESD affords customers the opportunity to call one central number into USAMITC for IT support," he added. "If a customer has an IT issue, they can call one number and they'll receive the same level of service no matter where they are, globally," Nystel explained. The ESD builds a ticket and most of the time, can remote into the customer's PC to resolve the issue.

USAMITC's ESD started in 2006 as a test which took place at Darnell Army Medical Center in Fort Hood, Texas. The test far exceeded expectations, so the Army Surgeon General, Lieutenant General Eric B. Schoomaker, sent a memorandum to all his commanders directing them to support the ESD.

The standards at the ESD are very high. "The goal is for all phone calls to be answered within 30 seconds or less 90 percent of the time, and to have an abandoned call rate of less than four percent," said Nystel. "Abandoned calls are calls that have been in the que for more than 30 seconds. The ESD also strives for a first-contact-resolution, or where the problem is resolved in one phone call, of greater than 60 percent," he added.

By taking care of a broad range of IT issues for customers and by providing service to all of the U.S. Army Medical Command, the ESD has built a shared knowledge database, which should only improve customer service. "With a shared knowledge database, an ESD technician who finds a fix for an incident can share that knowledge by putting it in the global database," Nystel said. "If someone at another site is having that same issue, a technician can go into the database, find the best solution, and quickly resolve the problem." Nystel also said that all Army medical facilities work together and have access to that shared knowledge database. "With ESD technicians always looking for new fixes and better ways to do things, efficiency stands to continually increase," he concluded.

The ESD is government managed and is made up of more than 130 employees including both civil service and contractors. The latter are leads, agents, technicians and trainers.