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Insurers Advance on the ECM Ideal

By stressing context over content, next-generation insurance enterprise content management (ECM) solutions transparently and efficiently access information from disparate source systems.

The Medium Is Not the Message

Content located within disparate systems is thus opaque outside the respective systems environments. But through the application of tags that identify content taxonomically, the source becomes irrelevant and the content, wherever it may dwell, becomes transparent, explains Farone. In this way, the practice of content management becomes less about the content itself and more about the management. The bottom tier of content becomes less important than a superstructure of what might be called meta-content, which includes things such as security and access identifiers, or configurations of a rules engine or workflow system.

"The value today is coming out of how we manage," Farone states. "And strategically we are taking a services-oriented approach to how we are going to manage content across disparate systems."

As examples, Farone cites implementations of Interwoven's (Sunnyvale, Calif.) WorkSite solution in the carrier's Provider Services and Federal Employment Program (FEP) areas. The implementation was the outgrowth of a relationship dating back to 2000 focused on use of the vendor's TeamSite solution for content management for the carrier's intranet and external Internet presence. BCBSMA later implemented the vendor's composite application provisioning (CAP) solution, based on Interwoven's ControlHub and OpenDeploy products.

The solution allows the carrier to standardize the way code and content changes are aggregated, synchronized and deployed throughout testing, staging and production, according to the vendor. The Interwoven CAP Solution also helps BCBSMA meet key IT compliance requirements by delivering an auditable, historical snapshot of all application changes, Interwoven says.

Within BCBSMA's Provider Services area, call center reps dealing with contacts at provider offices operated within a highly paper-dependent process, relying on phone-book sized reference works, relates Farone. In FEP, BCBSMA employees similarly relied upon a large paper volume, in this case containing encyclopedic guidance for processing claims, he adds. The claims-edit guides, as they are called, "were frequently wrong, frequently out of date, and frequently contained updates that were out of sync from person to person or team to team," Farone reports.

Aspects of the processes used within Provider Services and FEP were digitized over time, but service levels still fell far short of real-time resolution, Farone notes. "Even at that point we didn't have an effective way to put that information in context and in a searchable taxonomy structure that enabled us [in the case of Provider Services] to quickly answer any number of questions presented to a call center representative," he says. "By leveraging [the WorkSite] technology, aggregating content sources and putting workflow structures that manage how that content is distributed to different staff, we are able to provide very specific, up-to-date information related to things such as medical policies in real time."

WorkSite supports hundreds of file types, permitting the indexing of content regardless of the source, Farone continues. "Whether you put in a Word document, a PowerPoint document or a PDF, it will go through the content within the file and help index it," he says. Typically, a small group of content editors manage the process that creates composite documents, such as medical policies or claims job aids, that aggregate content from diverse sources and platforms, he explains. "If I'm on the phone with a provider and looking up a particular job aid, it doesn't matter whether it's Word, PowerPoint or Excel -- it is automatically searchable and retrievable," Farone contends.

WorkSite went live for Provider Services and FEP in August 2006 and currently has approximately 400 users in Provider Services alone. The solution has been rolled out to about 20 other departments at the carrier and saw a doubling of adoption rates in the first quarter of 2007, according to Farone.

Farone describes the Interwoven tools, and WorkSite specifically, as essential in supporting what he calls an extraordinary amount of development and a very large volume of content, code and configuration to provide services to members, providers, brokers and accounts. "Having the management tools available to regulate that has been critical to meeting the demands of our business," he says. "Without these tools, without a broader definition of what content actually means, and without an effective deployment and management strategy relative to that content, I am confident it would have been far more difficult to meet the needs of our business and customers in a growth environment."

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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