Maryland Blues Wins IS Award
Builds New Architecture for Future

Fast Track 500

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland was named one of PC Week's "Fast-Track 500" companies based on its five-year plan to replace most of its architecture with an integrated best-of-breed system.

Owings Mills-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland will replace many of ts core IS systems and build an integrated hybrid mainframe-client/server architecture over the next five years under a $60 million strategic IS plan.

The aggressive plan will consolidate multiple systems and provide a platform that can support the company's merger with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of the National Capital Area and other expansions. The combined organization will have more than 2 million members.

The first major system to be replaced is the Blues plan's core business support system (IMW 12/4/96, p. 4). CIO Charles Bradbury's team was about to make a selection from three finalists — a client/server system, a midrange system and a mainframe system — when Maryland Blue Cross announced the merger.

The announcement delayed the decision while Bradbury added people from the D.C. Blues plan to the selection team and restudied the needs of both carriers.

The study provided a clear choice among the three finalists: The Blues will install GTE's mainframe-based Q/Care System, which is also used by Kaiser Permanente, a few of the other large Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans and Cigna Corp. of Bloomfield, Conn.

Although Q/Care is a legacy, COBOL-based system, Bradbury says it is one of the leaders in functionality. "We needed a system that will allow us to double our capacity overnight," he says. "None of the client/server systems are running in payers that approach the combined volumes of our merged companies."

Despite this choice, Bradbury is committed to client/server. As part of the sales contract, GTE agreed to migrate Q/Care to a client/server architecture with a graphical user interface front end. Q/Care is only one of several basic pieces of the architecture that the payer will replace over the next five years; all the others will be client/server.

One of Bradbury's top projects for this year is to move all servers from Novell NetWare to Microsoft Windows NT and to upgrade all desktops throughout the organization to Windows 95 to support the new applications.

Once that's done, he plans to install Aurum, a new two-tier sales force automation system that will run on the network and on laptops.

The Blues plans are also close to making a final choice on replacing several general ledger systems, most of them inherited through previous mergers, with a new client/server system.

Because the insurer is buying a system instead of building in-house the forklift upgrade, Bradbury's shop is more of a system integrator than a developer. He expects to build the custom interfaces he will need.

Bradbury's aim: to create a system that will support the company's continued growth, solve its year-2000 problems and achieve competitive advantage in the fast-growing Mid-Atlantic market.

 

Contact Bradbury at (410) 998-6600

Editor: Bert Latamore

Managing Editor: Phoebe Eliopoulos

Executive Editor: Michael E. Carbine