CareFirst Expands Relationship With Russian Outsourcing Provider

In the News:

Insurence Technology – by Greg MacSweeney

Building on an existing outsourcing and co-development relationship, Owings Mills, MD-based CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield recently awarded an additional number of projects to EPAM (Princeton, NJ), an outsourcer that connects teams of Russian developers based in Moscow and Minsk with corporate clients.

EPAM will work with CareFirst to migrate BrokerExpress, the carrier's rating, quoting and proposal application for small group business, from a Novell SilverStream platform to an IBM (Armonk, NY) WebSphere platform that leverages J2EE, says Maynard McAlpin, director of e-commerce at CareFirst. "We want to push more business capabilities to the users," McAlpin says. "If we continued" with the SilverStream-based system, "we would have to add extra servers. By moving to WebSphere, we can be more efficient and eliminate the need for the extra servers."

Also, CareFirst is using some of EPAM's resources to re-architect IndividualExpress, its Web-based individual health product site that is accessible to consumers. "We were having some technical issues with IndividualExpress," McAlpin says. "The Web is huge for us in the individual market segment. We want to eventually push e-signature and straight-through processing technology to the individual to make the process as streamlined as possible."

A third project is the replacement of the sales campaign management system, McAlpin adds. "The campaign management system was really old," he says. "Initially, the sales organization was reviewing different packaged solutions, but the cost was extremely prohibitive. Also, we would have had to do a lot of customization of any packaged product."

EPAM, since it has worked with CareFirst for some time and is familiar with its systems and business processes, will co-develop the new sales management system with CareFirst, he adds. "EPAM has worked through the business requirements with us and the business users are very comfortable with us using EPAM." Another reason why CareFirst is developing a new campaign management system is because it is moving to Microsoft Windows XP and is making many infrastructure changes that would have made the older system obsolete.

CareFirst began working with EPAM in 2000, but it didn't know it was outsourcing to Russia because it was working through a third party, according to McAlpin. Only after CareFirst decided to move away from its original outsourcing relationship, did it realize that EPAM was offshore. "EPAM was doing a lot of maintenance for us and we were very comfortable with them," McAlpin says. "Their costs are much lower and the quality is excellent. EPAM was our first experience in outsourcing, Eastern Europe was our first location of choice, now we are outsourcing with Accenture for HIPAA projects as well."