Kansas City, Mo.-based Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City (BCBSKC; annual revenue of $1.5 billion) offers members, providers and brokers access to claims information through its Web site, www.bcbskc.com, which encrypts confidential policyholder information in compliance with HIPAA regulations. But the site was having trouble displaying pages correctly while running security encryption, according to Chad O'Neal, Web technical engineer for BCBSKC. "We needed to add more security to our Web site while also improving the performance," he says. So the insurer began searching in 2002 for a solution to improve site performance while also complying with healthcare regulations for data privacy and improving business continuity.
After reviewing several vendors' products, which it declines to name, BCBSKC chose F5's (Seattle) Application Delivery product suite in mid-2002. "We did look at many vendors' products, but F5's provided the best application security layer and had stability," says Randy Paxton, lead network engineer, BCBSKC.
First, BCBSKC's IT staff and F5 technicians installed the vendor's BIG-IP Link Controller onto the carrier's network to create ISP redundancy, which reduces Internet disruptions, improving site uptime and performance. Next, BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager was deployed to monitor and redirect Web traffic in order to prevent the carrier's servers from being overloaded. The final component of the implementation, deployed in the third quarter of 2005, was TrafficShield, a layer of security that protects against phishing, hacking and virus attacks.
Since the implementation's completion, "We no longer have trouble displaying pages," says O'Neal. "We also have improved performance, and the increased server availability allows us to withstand hardware issues and recover from any problems quickly."