HealthBridge Financial relies on AWS and Boomi to grow its business

Resources can be limited with any startup, but one area of ​​technology investment that HealthBridge Financial decided couldn’t do without a business integration platform.

The Michigan-based startup is making financial resources available to enable its business clients to offer their employees a benefits option to pay for medical expenses, such as deductibles and coinsurance, over time so that they do not delay or forgo health care. .

Tim heger

To do this, HealthBridge’s CTO and CISO, Tim Heger, knew the company would need to establish a secure and scalable mechanism to exchange data between the disparate systems of its insurance, health and payment providers and its business applications.

“We are a data company. We receive and send data. This is how we live and breathe,” Heger said. “The way we get, receive and transform data is critical to the success of our business. “

Integration challenges

Heger was familiar with the painful process of integrating his previous consulting work on large-scale ecommerce platform transitions with Asics, Harley-Davidson, Kohl’s, and Payless. So he knew he would need to make a business integration platform one of his top priorities when he became HealthBridge’s first employee in August 2017.

“You can build an amazing website and do all kinds of cool customer-related things, but if you didn’t have good connections in your inventory, payment processing, and accounting, it was all for nothing.” , Heger recalled.

Heger’s e-commerce consulting experience also had an impact on other important decisions he made to help the startup get started. He knew he didn’t want to spend precious time, money, and IT resources setting up a data center and buying, racking, configuring, managing, monitoring, patching, and updating servers. . So he chose AWS To run all of the company’s apps, save the ones that its SaaS providers like Sage, Slack, and Jira host themselves.

“It’s really the smart way to run a very scalable business,” Heger said. “We could peak and Amazon will grow with us. When the peak disappears, it automatically decreases. The only thing that changes is our bill. We only pay for what we use instead of buying latent servers for months and months. “

Boom AtomSphere
HealthBridge Financial uses Boomi’s AtomSphere to build, deploy, and manage integrations that enable data exchange between trading partners and applications.

Layered defense security

The next fundamental element was security, as HealthBridge manages health information protected by HIPAA. Heger said he was following a layered defense /defense in depth approach that is common among RSSIs and uses a collection of Amazon and third-party security tools coupled with AWS best practices.

“For me, Amazon was the obvious choice. They have amazing tools and processes and as much skin in the game as we do when it comes to security. They can’t afford more problems than we do,” Heger explained. . “I’ve implemented tools at 16 different levels that monitor traffic, behavior, patch levels, and known security issues. We are alerted and resolve them quickly. “

Next on the priority list are development tools for integration. Heger again relied on previous experience, this time with integration platform as a service (iPaaS) some products. A year before joining HealthBridge, Heger had overseen a bake-off to compare the iPaaS options of Boomi, which Dell Technologies sold last month, and MuleSoft, which Salesforce acquired in 2018.

Now I am able to provide tremendous value to my highly skilled people who need this data, and I don’t have to distract my Michelangelo to help me paint the living room.

Tim hegerCTO and RSSI, HealthBridge Financial

“I fell in love with this whole integration service option,” Heger said, “because it really took away a lot of complexity and risk to deliver projects on time. “

Boomi vs. MuleSoft iPaaS

MuleSoft turned out to be the best solution for Asics. But Heger said he selected Boomi’s AtomSphere iPaaS in the weeks after his HealthBridge start date because the tool required less technical skills to build and deploy integrations. Boomi’s no-code and low-code tools have since enabled Heger to become the primary developer and integrator of Boomi, even though he is the least skilled member of the HealthBridge development team.

“Imagine how many more developers I would have had to hire to write plumbing code which is very important, but ultimately moves the data from point A to point B,” Heger said. “Now I am able to provide tremendous value to my highly skilled people who need this data, and I don’t have to distract my Michelangelo from helping me paint the living room.”

Heger knew that the average developer could see prebuilt code with a “yellowish eye”, but he said the HealthBridge team now uses Boomi to handle more and more data transformations, as they found that it could speed up the process, be efficient and facilitate deployment. Additionally, Boomi updates and maintains connector code.

“The shortest timeframe to generate business value is my goal,” Heger said. “If it’s personalized development, we write it ourselves. If we’re going to use a tool like iPaaS, that’s what we do. We are constantly evaluating the new development we are making at HealthBridge to choose the right tool. If your answer is still a personalized code, then you are not giving the company and your investors any help. “

Build a scalable platform

HealthBridge spent about 18 months building a platform through a combination of Boomi and custom code before entering the market in early 2019. Heger said the startup expects to hit the six-figure mark for the number of applicants using the platform next year.

“One of my mantras for my team was to think big. You have to assume that we have a million members, and we have to be able to support them, handle their complaints and offer them the level of service that they need, ”Heger said. “During that year and a half, we were building a fully automated platform. So with a lightweight staffing model, we are able to support and scale a huge number of members and employers. “

So far, HealthBridge has not encountered any vendors using a data format that the Boomi tool does not support. The two dozen insurance companies and healthcare providers that HealthBridge exchanges data with have mature tech stacks, and many are using the healthcare system electronic data interchange (EDI) format.

“My goal was to never show up to one of those partners and say, ‘We’re going to have a test match on what format we’re going to use,'” said Heger. “I wanted to make sure we were the easiest people to work with. We introduce ourselves and we’re like, ‘Your preferred format is our preferred format.’”

Heger said that HealthBridge deals with flat files most often, JSON and EDI formats. Boomi software converts the incoming data to the “standard HealthBridge format” for processing in the company’s back-end systems and converts it back to the partner’s format when sending data in the reverse direction.

“If tomorrow we get a new paying partner, we don’t have to disrupt our integration with Blue Cross,” Heger said. “We just created a brand new one for the new partner. Then the first step is to switch to the standard HealthBridge format. “

Speed ​​up customer onboarding

Heger said he can usually build a near-production-level integration prototype in a matter of days using the Boomi. tools, so HealthBridge engineers can get to work establishing and testing secure communications to exchange sensitive data. Heger said HealthBridge can onboard a client in under a week, depending on the formats and fields he uses.

HealthBridge chose to run Boomi in AWS, not Boomi’s cloud, to have greater control of information protected by HIPAA and layer in security controls for identity and access management, Heger said. The company uses Okta to control user access to applications.

As the company’s fourth anniversary approaches in August, HealthBridge’s technology team now consists of 18 employees and 15 contractors. Heger said only six are non-developers. Without the decision to go with AWS, Heger said he would now be purchasing new hardware with a team of network engineers responsible only for load balancing and server management.

Heger said he could have saved “A few dollars” with a do-it-yourself on-premise infrastructure approach, but the risk of not being able to scale on demand, the unknown costs of required resources, and the shortage of good network engineers were too great.

“For me, it just wasn’t worth the time and effort,” he said.

Instead, Heger is now focusing on new ways to try to help HealthBridge earn money from its investments.

“This is what I do all the time with all of our tools, not just Boomi,” Heger said. “Use your applied knowledge and try to find other places where you can get business value quickly.”

Carol Sliwa is a senior writer at TechTarget and covers enterprise architecture, storage arrays and drives, and flash and memory technologies.

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