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Partnering with Jitterbit cures workers' comp prescription ills

Thinking of going virtual? See how one company moved its workers' compensation data into a cloud computing environment and realized significant cost savings.

Partnering with Jitterbit Inc. and getting some help from Salesforce.com Inc. helped AWPRx move its workers' compensation prescription data to the cloud. In doing so, the company should save hundreds of thousands of dollars this year alone, according to its chief architect. Read more in this case study about the benefits of working with Jitterbit.

   
AWPRx helps workers' compensation beneficiaries fill prescriptions and manage claims online. It also manages those prescriptions on behalf of insurance carriers and third-party administrators. All in all, the company is affiliated with more than 95% of the nation's pharmacies.

These extremely data-intensive responsibilities require AWPRx to communicate with insurance providers, pharmacies and the affected workers, and to deal with states' different workers' compensation rules.

With all this information incorporated into its system, AWPRx can immediately reject prescriptions for medications or medical devices that aren't covered, noted Ray Hudaihed, its chief architect. "We charge on a percentage from the prescriptions that get approved," he said.

Critical steps: Ditching the data center, going with Jitterbit

AWPRx's data-processing, storage and network capabilities are critical to its livelihood. Even downtimes as short as 30 minutes will affect the firm negatively, Hudaihed said.

The company's foray into cloud computing came earlier this year. "Our email was thrown out a few months ago, and we went to Google Apps. It's a major, ambitious approach for us," Hudaihed said.

When AWPRx was taking steps to move further away from an in-house structure, Hudaihed talked to San Francisco's Salesforce.com, which told him about Jitterbit open source integration software. With Oakland, Calif.-based Jitterbit's more reasonable pricing, the deal was sealed.

"We looked at all our other competitors. ... The price just to shake hands with these guys was $150,000 a year, and that's not including support or training," Hudaihed said.

AWPRx previously ran a Cast Iron Systems Inc. Software as a Service (SaaS) system, which required a lot of additional, ongoing code-writing, he said. The company also used an Oracle Corp. database.

To replace that system, AWPRx implemented a custom system with Jitterbit linking its databases to its cloud computing environment running on Salesforce.com. The cloud, hosted by Rackspace US Inc., lets AWPRx employees access applications, databases and on-demand systems seamlessly, delivering improved data management to all authorized personnel, Hudaihed said.

Its success with Jitterbit encouraged the company to investigate other ways to move away from an in-house approach. For example, the Oracle database will be moved completely to Salesforce.com by the end of 2009. If the Salesforce.com system encounters limitations in its ability to run a vast number of records, AWPRx taps Jitterbit for its processing power, Hudaihed said.

"Jitterbit is becoming more and more the place where we can get all our clouds to talk to each other. Now we're realizing more benefits. We're realizing more of the benefits than [we would with] a huge data center," Hudaihed said. "We are becoming literally virtualized to the bone."

The payoff with Jitterbit: Less spending, fewer headaches

With Jitterbit, AWPRx has cut its allocated integration budget by more than 80% and has seen a huge return. According to Hudaihed, the facility invested about $16,000 on the new technology and expects to save as much as $400,000 by year's end, based initially on the savings realized by partnering with Jitterbit and Salesforce.com.

For starters, "When we moved to Rackspace, that was a nice big chunk of money we didn't need to spend on database hosting," Hudaihed said. In addition, "if you start from day one by Salesforce.com, it saves … 50% to 75% of the headache, especially being on the SMB side."

Finally, AWPRx has saved extensively on internal training, support and development costs by moving applications off its own Oracle J2EE data center and onto the servers of its cloud computing partners. Plus, in partnering with Jitterbit and Salesforce.com, AWPRx's internal development department no longer has to work on software updates and revisions.

Jitterbit is becoming more and more the place where we can get all our clouds to talk to each other.

Ray Hudaihed, Chief Architect, AWPRx

The company's impressive ROI, in addition to improving its profitability and competitiveness, helped Hudaihed convince upper management about the viability of a hosted cloud system. One issue he addressed was the demise of the company's Oracle database, which some executives believed would live on in the cloud.

"There was a lot of fear and, more than anything else, misconceptions and misunderstanding about the cloud itself," Hudaihed explained. However, AWPRx's top executives understood the cost savings associated with cloud computing, he said. After educating them about Jitterbit's costs and capabilities, he quickly received management buy-in. "I've had much more difficult challenges in the past," he said.

Some executives also were concerned about support, especially because the move was partially spurred by management's desire to save money and improve capabilities. To address their concern, Jitterbit came to AWPRx with a tailor-made, three-day training course that used actual cases and real-time files. "After the trainer left, within two or three days we were up and running," Hudaihed said. "Involving an organization like Jitterbit got the big boys off my back."

Alison Diana is a contributing writer based in Orlando. Let us know what you think about the story; email editor@searchhealthit.com.

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