Healthways provides comprehensive Heath and Care SupportSM solutions, helping people maintain or improve their health, and as a result reduces overall healthcare costs. Its programs are designed to promote wellness among healthy individuals; slow the progressions of disease associated with family or lifestyle risk factors; and promote the best possible health for those already affected by disease. Healthways gives members highly specific and personalized programs by phone, in-person interviews, online, and by mail.
Rising healthcare costs and an aging workforce have contributed to the company's 36% compound annual growth rate over the past five years. Today, more than 27 million individuals are eligible for Healthways' Health and Care Support programs.
In 2006, Healthways spent $28 million to print and mail literature to its membership. To reduce fulfillment costs and scale the process, Healthways set out to build a self-service eFulfillment portal that gives members 24x7, online access to its health and disease management documents.
The portal will aggregate requests for documents and schedule their delivery on the portal. It will integrate over a terabyte of patient data and a call center application for updating patient data files. The portal will also implement the document fulfillment system in a scalable way by incorporating a load balancing system. The following technologies are implemented in this portal:
- Document Request & fulfillment applications based on .NET 1.1 and SQL Server 2000
- Call center application based on .NET 1.1
- Oracle RAC database for patient data
- Microsoft Active Directory for network administration and directory services
- Juniper load balancing running on Windows 2003
As a part of the eFulfillment portal, Healthways will also purchase a compatible content management system to store the documents and to better manage the reviews process, which is currently done manually.
Explains David Jarmoluk, Director of Enterprise Architecture, "We knew we wanted a portal solution simply because an enterprise portal makes the most sense for how we do business. Healthways offers a menu of services, and we needed a modular, 'plug-and-play' architecture in which we could easily turn capabilities on and off to meet each plan sponsors' criteria. We didn't want to have to build new security, branding, and so on every time we brought on a new customer."
Jarmoluk evaluated several leading portals and scored them on several criteria, including:
- Features and functionalities: Ability to deliver a personalized experience based on the member's plan and the member's needs.
- Full C# development support: Enable Healthways' .NET team to build and maintain a fully featured enterprise portal environment using the latest development technologies. Healthways' team is currently using Visual Studio 2005 and ASP.NET 2.0. Future development plans include Ajax and .NET 3.0 technologies such as Windows Communication Foundation (WCF).
- Openness to .NET and non-Microsoft technologies: Integrate existing assets into the portal.
- Vendor viability: A proven track record delivering customer-facing enterprise portals.
- Scalability: Ability to support 1,000 concurrent users or more with efficient economy of scale.
- Total cost of ownership.
Based on these criteria, the team selected IBM WebSphere Portal and Mainsoft for WebSphere Portal. Using Mainsoft, Portal Edition, WebSphere Portal provides seamless support for .NET development as well as .NET applications, services, and information, in addition to Java. Healthways also purchased the IBM Workplace Web Content Management (IWWCM) system for its robust features and functionalities and intuitive use.
Healthways' C# development team built the fulfillment system using ASP.NET 2.0, the .NET Framework 2.0, and C# generics. Mainsoft's Visual Studio-based software development kit gave the development team direct access to WebSphere Portal's rich set of end-user APIs, including single sign-on, branding, and navigation. The C# developers also had programmatic access to the portal's infrastructure services, including portal security, registration, personalization rules, and portal caching, within Visual Studio.
Explains Jarmoluk, "Java consultants from Ascendant Technology customized the Java-based IWWCM system, and they did some JSP programming on the portal's themes and skins. Everything else was done in .NET."
Mainsoft's patented cross compiler compiled .NET source code into Java bytecode, producing ASP.NET applications that run natively as JSR 168 compliant portlets on the WebSphere Portal. Mainsoft packs the generated class files in a standard WAR file, together with a robust implementation of ASP.NET, ADO.NET, and the .NET 2.0 Framework.
"The development process was highly intuitive," adds Jarmoluk. "Our C# developers were already developing Java portlets on day one of a two-day training with Mainsoft consultants. There was an initial learning curve for our development team because no one had any portal development experience, but that was expected."
The eFulfillment deployment platform incorporates a total of 25 servers, with full redundancy. These systems run Windows Server 2003, which is the primary expertise of the Healthways IT team.
Healthways moved the eFulfillment site to production five months after development work began. The company projects its mailing and administrative costs will decrease by 30% a year through continued adoption of emedia being published through consumer portals.
"By writing the eFulfillment application in C#, we were able to use our existing skill set in Windows and .NET development, while also meeting our design requirements to deliver a highly personalized experience to members in a highly scalable, proven production environment."
The completion of the portal marks the first step in Healthways' comprehensive initiative to redesign, integrate, and scale its IT infrastructure with a front-end SOA running on WebSphere Portal and developed using Mainsoft software.