Version 2.5 is alive!

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In software, you don’t have a product until you have users.  At HealthAxis Group, we have many products, but for almost 3 years, our next-generation Core Stack – the keystone of our long-term strategy – was not one of them.  After nearly 150,000 development hours and probably another half of that in planning, testing, gathering requirements, and creating supporting tools and resources, what we had was really interesting code that remained a product only in theory.

On September 2, 2015 at 8 AM our efforts we crossed over from interesting code to an excellent product. For the past 2 weeks, employees at Beacon Health Solutions have been logging into the first production instance of our new HealthAxis Core Stack and began to service members, claims, and providers for three health plans – America’s First Choice Health Plans of South Carolina, America’s First Choice Insurance of North Carolina, and Easy Choice Health Plan of New York.  Before the year is over, at least 3 other health plans – Prominence Health Plan, Freedom Health, and Optimum Health – will also be live on our system.

For a majority of the company, exposure to Core Stack development has been limited, and that was by design.  It might be possible for the same group of people to service complex clients to a high standard while simultaneously designing, building, and testing a next-generation enterprise application.  It might also be possible for a person to herd cats while simultaneously running a marathon.  In both cases, however, you’re better off separating the activities if you are serious about achieving the goals.  And so, for this massive but intrinsically one-time project, we relied on some committed partners to augment the effort and bring the next-generation system to a state that is closer to the systems we support and refine today. Those partners – NextSphere Technologies and Beacon Health Solutions – have helped assure our long-term competitiveness, and before I discuss some more implications of this milestone on all of us within HealthAxis Group it is important to acknowledge their critical contributions

NextSphere Technologies is a software services company that was responsible for the vast majority of the development hours I mentioned previously.  NextSphere had just wrapped up a major refactoring project in another industry and their recent experience “translating” mission-critical legacy code into a cutting-edge architecture was an important factor in entrusting them with this responsibility. Their developers, analysts, project managers, and other team members have repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to do whatever it takes to help HealthAxis Group meet its goals and deadlines. You can click here for titles but just like our team at HealthAxis, their title reflects only a subset of their contributions when the going got tough – these folks and the teams they led did whatever was needed inside or outside the scope of their title to maximize our chance of success. They are: Deepthi Seernam; Anji Reddy Katha; Raghav Angara; Tajuddin (“Taj”); Anil Kotha; Uday Guntupalli; Bala Sowjanya Akkena (“Sowjanya”); Venkata Surya Dantuluri; Krishna Mohan Polireddy; Karl Marx Duraisamy (“Karl”); and the team was led by Arjun Marala, Kiran Kumar, Santosh Reddy. These projects are fraught with challenges and the team did not back down or break down. In the end, in an effort to make a September 1 deadline a possibility, the NextSphere team, right alongside the Beacon and HealthAxis teams, worked literally around the clock in a continuous process of loading and validation to complete data migration for the client.  When we couldn’t make September 1 work despite all our efforts, they worked around the clock the next day to make sure we didn’t miss September 2.

Beacon Health Solutions is a sister company that provides BPO services for every function within a health plan short of Medical Management and Sales & Marketing. The services that they perform for Health Plans and TPAs are all driven by software, and we used their experience in both process and systems to assist in overall design, requirements definition, system documentation, UAT, data validation, project management.  They were the diligent domain experts working alongside NextSphere’s dedicated technical experts. Led by Michele Mahoney, the outstanding team included Stephanie Dague, Heather Johnson, Renu Shahdpuri, Darpan Patel, Tiffany McKneelen, and a number of other key contributors. We look forward to a future of shared opportunities and rewards, as we expect Beacon to have tremendous success selling services driven by the system they worked with us to establish.

Tying all of this effort together across the 3-year project with our own strategy, goals, and contributions were the senior team of HealthAxis, and nobody was more critical to that duty than our CTO Eric Strikowski. Eric was a primary contributor more than 3 years ago to defining what “state-of-the-art” actually meant and looked like for us before a project was ever possible, and he also personally developed our new Claims Adjudication Engine – one of the most complex and important parts of a Claims and Benefits Management system.  Helping Eric refine the system and several thousand adjudication scenarios over several months was Jean Philius, and when the deadlines began to loom and we had to release code to numerous environments at all hours to keep testers and implementers on track, we were able to count on the availability and responsiveness of Release Manager Evan Sullivan.

All of these efforts and accomplishments merit recognition and celebration, but not as a conclusion.  A door was opened this month and on the other side is the collective future of HealthAxis Group.  I have talked about moving from our disparate origins to become a “single platform company” – this is the platform. From here we can begin to implement a road map for transitions of our team members, our customers, and our entire business context.

With our first instance live, opportunity (and the responsibility) begins to shift internall to our product and customer service teams.  This system will continue to be enhanced, first incorporating our Coordinated Care functions and culminating with the inclusion of our Insur-Claim and Insur-Admin capabilities in Core Stack v3.0.  As mentioned previously, we are going to purposefully select customers, plans, and the attendant features and expose members of our team accordingly.  Our objective to transition 100% of our customers will not be possible without a corresponding goal to transition 100% of our team.  As we share the extent of our progress with both current and potential customers, the specific plans and timelines will crystalize.  I know there are many questions about who does what when.  In the past, my sincere desire to answer every question has made me hesitant to share even exciting and awesome news like this.  It’s pretty obvious to me now that those answers only come from sharing these updates with the team and empowering you to think about next steps. Accordingly, I will conclude this note without perfect answers, but instead with a commitment to share more clearly with all of you the present context and future goals of the business. As far as this month’s events go, suffice it to say we have no reasons not to move towards the goal of a single platform company now.  What remains is the task of informing everyone of the capabilities of our next generation system and identifying a sequence that allows for general inclusion. We will be seeking ways to introduce our next generation system to our team as well as customers over the coming months, with the idea that everybody will bring perspective and knowledge that will define our migration plan.

I am extremely excited about our future and the opportunities standing before all of us, and I look forward to sharing more context and progress as we grow together.

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