When you’re in a collaborative relationship with 13 regional hospitals, and affiliated with a university medical school, your messaging system must be accurate, reliable and secure. That’s why BJC HealthCare Information Services needed an affordable solution that could communicate between platforms.

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About BJC HealthCare Information Services

A longtime GroupWise® customer, BJC HealthCare also works closely with Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Many Washington University physicians are on staff at BJC’s academic medical centers. However, Washington University uses a different email platform, so for many years BJC used a GroupWise connector to communicate between platforms.

When support for the GroupWise connector ended, BJC looked at migrating to the university’s platform. A cost analysis made the migration decision obvious.


Charlie Yarnall, operations manager for messaging and mobility at BJC HealthCare, analyzed the total cost of migrating BJC’s GroupWise users to another collaboration platform.

The migration costs would have included:

  • - 27,000 client software licenses
  • - Additional server hardware
  • - Server software upgrades
  • - Additional support staff


“When we analyzed migrating to an alternate platform, it would have cost us US$9.5 million initially, plus additional, ongoing costs,” he says. “And that figure didn’t include the cost of training or the cost of the time involved in migrating.”

Migration was out of the question, but without a GroupWise connector, BJC would lose key collaboration capabilities—including calendar busy search, address book synchronization and “reply all” functions—with their 2,000 colleagues in the Department of Pediatrics at the university medical school.

“Our option was to remove the old GroupWise connector and force all email communications between BJC and Washington University to just travel a normal Internet path,” Yarnall says. “And, due to the strong possibility of patient data or HIPAA information being transmitted in those messages, we would also have to use a third-party spam/virus product to provide message encryption. That would mean the ability to perform calendar busy searches—a critical feature to both sides—would’ve been eliminated.”


Yarnall needed something that would allow two different collaboration platforms to coexist harmoniously within the BJC infrastructure. As a healthcare organization, BJC also needed message encryption between the two systems. Of course, as a non-profit, he needed the solution to fit in his budget.

At BrainShare® a few months later, he learned that we were working on a coexistence solution for collaboration and knew his search was over.

“GroupWise Coexistence would immediately resolve the ‘reply to all’ and address book problems we’d been having,” Yarnall says. “No more delivery failures or multiple entries for the same individual. And, both BJC and the university physicians could use the address book and calendar functions.”


After installing the new solution, Yarnall noted that the number of email-related helpdesk tickets dropped by 80 percent.

“We were getting five to seven tickets a week, but now we have no more communication issues with the medical school users,” he says.

Today, medical school users who need to communicate or schedule meetings with BJC can do so seamlessly—and securely—with GroupWise Coexistence. In addition, says Ellen Wylie, technical specialist at BJC, they don’t have to rely on third-party encryption products.

“Because the GroupWise database is internally encrypted, no one outside the system can read our email. This means ePHI (electronic patient health information) is secure, as required by healthcare regulations,” she says.

Now other medical school departments are interested in GroupWise Coexistence, too. Message status information, proxy capabilities, busy search and address book synchronization are just a few of the GroupWise features they would like to take advantage of.

“Many other system administrators have expressed an interest in also connecting with our GroupWise system so they can share directory information, easily exchange email, and perform calendar busy searches,” Yarnall says. “That will be happening during the next year.”

Note: Although BJC provided information for this case study, participation does not imply endorsement of a company or product. Washington University does not endorse commercial products or services.

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BJC HealthCare is one of the largest non-profit healthcare organizations in the United States, delivering services primarily in the greater St. Louis, southern Illinois and mid-Missouri regions.


Health Care


United States

North America



  • Avoided US$9.5 million in possible migration costs
  • Connected 27,000 GroupWise users to 2,000 users on a different system
  • Reduced related helpdesk incidents by 80 percent

"When we analyzed migrating to an alternate platform, it would have cost us US$9.5 million initially, plus additional, ongoing costs."

Operations Manager, Messaging & Mobility
BJC HealthCare

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