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Russian Code is no Secret

HealthcareITNews – by John Andrews

Mention it offshoring and most people think of India. Yet while the Asian subcontinent is one of the oldest and largest players in the outsourcing game, its neighbor to the far north is also vying for what is becoming an increasingly lucrative business. In fact, Russia is establishing itself as a premier contractor for healthcare IT services, an executive at a Princeton, NJ-based firm contends.

David Scott is senior vice president for EPAM Systems, a stateside company that employs some 800 workers in Russia and other former Soviet Bloc countries. Founded shortly after communism's fall in the early 1990s, EPAM is a technology service provider that started serving the healthcare market just last year. In that short span, healthcare has grown to represent 15 percent of the company's business, driven primarily by new clients CareFirst and Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

EPAM's competitive strategy is in providing services that go beyond call centers and back office functions, Scott said. Approximately 95 percent of its workforce is comprised of highly skilled technicians assigned to customized Internet projects.

"Russia has a very smart technical base of people, a great educational system, world renowned scientists, and high output of quality software engineers," Scott said. "What keeps us competitive is that we have high-caliber people who work for the same pay scale as India."

"Healthcare is a promising frontier for EPAM," Scott said, "because the industry's needs fit squarely within the company's expertise."

"Healthcare still has quite a few legacy systems and we're good at streamlining processes and providing the software for it," he said. "We can build technology around existing hardware."

Because payers rely heavily on insurance brokers, a primary focus for technology upgrades is creating a centralized communications portal for them. "Our system automates an outdated manual process," Scott said. "The more innovative a payer can be in allowing brokers to do their jobs, the better results they will have."