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Customer Story: Healthcare

Delivering real-time, connected data to ensure appropriate patient care

Challenge
As the world of healthcare services evolves, all players in the healthcare ecosystem need to evolve with it—or become obsolete. Beacon Health needed a way to use existing technology to run its strong core lines of business in behavioral health management while leveraging existing and new technologies that ensure health code data quality and service delivery with real-time data.
Solution
The Actian Avalanche Hybrid Cloud Data Warehouse enables Beacon Health to continue supporting its existing business—processing large volumes of EDI information at high speeds in a secure, HIPAA-compliant manner—while simultaneously leveraging the Avalanche technology for high performance real-time connected analytics.
Outcome
The Actian Avalanche Hybrid Cloud Data Warehouse provides Beacon Health with the power to securely process large volumes of EDI information at high speeds. It also provides powerful analytics capabilities that can be run seamlessly—on-premise, in multiple clouds, or both—without any changes to the physical data model, database, or ETL processes.
About Beacon Health Options, Inc.
Based in Boston, Beacon Health is a leader in behavioral health management, serving 40 million people across all 50 states. It offers superior clinical mental health and substance use disorder management, a comprehensive employee assistance program, work/life support, specialty programs for autism and depression, and insightful analytics to improve the delivery of care.

For more than 30 years, Boston-based Beacon Health Options has been a leader in the delivery of behavioral health management solutions. The broad numbers are impressive enough: 70 locations across the US and partnerships with more than 65 health plans (serving commercial, FEP, Medicaid, Medicare, and Exchange populations) and 180 employers. All in all, Beacon provides services affecting 40 million Americans, including more than 5 million members of the military and their families.

What’s behind the broad numbers, though, is even more impressive. Beacon handles massive volume of claims information, and that information moves in and out of Beacon’s claims processing system with very little friction—even though submissions are formatted in many different ways. Each health plan has its own set of data standards and formats, as do many of the employers engaging with Beacon. Given the volume of claims that could be generated by 40 million covered individuals, one might expect that any system ingesting and transforming all these inbound EDI submissions would be easily overwhelmed.

Fortunately, Beacon had relied for years on Actian DataConnect to support its EDI/ETL needs, and DataConnect was designed to provide precisely the kind of uninterrupted service and support that an enterprise leader like Beacon required. The enterprise connectivity, performance, and flexibility of Actian DataConnect enabled Beacon Health to process high volumes of claims and integrate seamlessly with its application service management systems.

Looking towards the future of healthcare and technology optimization, though, Beacon’s technology team wanted to explore a number of options, including high-performance analytics, real-time connectivity, and data warehousing scenarios that could include everything from on-premises to multi-cloud options.

The Solution

In some ways, the solution that would meet Beacon’s needs for high performance analytics, and hybrid data warehousing options, was sitting right in front of them.

The Actian DataConnect application connectivity tools that Beacon had long been using for seamless EDI/ETL operations are the same tools that are built into the Actian Avalanche Hybrid Cloud Data Warehouse, a powerful data warehouse solution designed both for high-performance analytics and the flexibility of a hybrid deployment. The Actian Avalanche Hybrid Cloud Data Warehouse can be deployed on-premises, in multi-cloud configurations, or even in a hybrid configuration that spans all these options. It is designed to work seamlessly with Azure data services such as Azure Data Lake Store Gen 2, Azure Data Factory, Microsoft Power BI, Microsoft PowerApps, and Azure AI, including Azure Machine Learning.

Regardless of where the data is located, the Avalanche data model is the same and a single platform that could operate both on-premises and in the cloud would provide Beacon with a long-term data warehouse strategy that would enable it to pursue new analytics opportunities while continuing to house sensitive data in the location that makes the most sense from business, customer confidence, and regulatory perspectives.

The Benefits

Incorporating Actian Avalanche into its infrastructure ensures that Beacon can continue to take advantage of the powerful EDI/ETL features it has long relied upon to deliver its core data processing services at speed. The version of the DataConnect technology engineered into Actian Avalanche is the same version Beacon had been using to interact with 20 EDI engines and process millions of submissions every day. It includes the same HIPAA-compliant HL7 data connectors and out-of-the-box healthcare EDI mapping templates, so Beacon did not need to tune or change any code to begin working with Actian Avalanche.

Actian Avalanche provides a long-term hybrid cloud data analytics strategy that technology and business teams can work on at their own strategic pace, with data residing wherever the organization requires (for HIPAA compliance or any other reason). Furthermore, any processes or routines that had originally been designed for on-premises deployment can easily move to the cloud whenever the time is right—with no changes to the physical data model, ETL processes, or business intelligence applications.

“At Beacon Health, we tested and selected Actian Avalanche to address our most demanding data analytics workloads,” says an executive at Beacon Health Options. “In Actian Avalanche Hybrid Cloud Data Warehouse offering for Azure, we believe that we found the perfect combination of great analytic performance and the lowest total cost of ownership available in a cloud offering.”

For Beacon Health Options, it really is ultimately about options, and Actian Avalanche gives Beacon the option to expand and explore new data warehouse options. It can run Actian Avalanche on premises or, when the cloud has proven itself capable of providing the levels of security and infrastructure integrity that Beacon demands, it can move those operations that make sense into the cloud. Right now, there’s no rush to make that move. But when Beacon decides that the time has come, the investments they’re making now in a hybrid data warehouse will make it easy to transition some or all of these services into the cloud, where Beacon can continue to deliver all its services at speed, with high accuracy and high security, and now with greater insights than ever.

"Real time data and data quality regarding behavioral healthcare coding are critical to providing the appropriate care at the right time. With its Real Time Connected Data solution, Actian ensures the proper health code data quality and service delivery."
Chief Information Officer, Beacon Health Options, Inc.
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