Smooth scaling enables critical healthcare portal to meet rapid rise in demand
Washington Health Benefit Exchange
The Washington Health Benefit Exchange operates Healthplanfinder, a fast and efficient way for Washington state residents to select health and dental care plans and providers in their communities. Red Hat, along with Deloitte, helped the organization strengthen the Healthplanfinder portal with Red Hat® OpenShift®, which provided a robust foundation for the Red Hat Integration bundle.
Red Hat’s open source technologies matched well with Washington Health Benefit Exchange’s existing technology and partners, which now serves one in four Washington residents who use the portal to compare premiums and complete plan enrollment online.
When COVID-19 led to a spike in traffic to its Healthplanfinder portal, Washington Health Benefit Exchange’s back-end infrastructure struggled to meet the upsurge in demand. Delivering a smooth, easily accessible customer experience became difficult.
Adding to the challenge, the Exchange’s on-site server technology environment and related software were approaching the end of support. The organization also had to improve integration between a variety of technologies to support multiple back-end and user-facing processes, such as applications, identity verification, and eligibility results.
The more interfaces and partners the Exchange adopted, the more interactions required to manage and secure. The need to connect to any system, from legacy mainframes to the most recent technology, became crucial.
The Exchange needed a platform capable of supporting an integrated, user-centered experience at scale, without loss of service. Red Hat OpenShift offered a modern container platform that would provide lower-cost scalability and increased uptime to help residents access the system when they needed it.
Enabling Washington Health Benefit Exchange’s transition involved setting some initial objectives. First, it had to simplify its operations so its IT platform could handle automated processes while integrating with other partners using different types of protocols. It also needed the capability to handle sharp increases in volume without compromising performance while meeting tight budgetary constraints.
The Exchange worked closely with Deloitte and Red Hat Consulting to help deploy its new platform together with Red Hat Integration – a set of agile, flexible technologies for application programming interface (API) connectivity and management with real-time messaging to integrate existing and new applications, data, processes, and policies. Red Hat products aligned its solutions to the business and technical challenges the Exchange faced and provided access to a suite of other open source products. They also ensured availability on and compatibility with Azure Government cloud.
The Exchange also engaged Red Hat Training to build the skills required for transitioning to Red Hat OpenShift containers from traditional bare-metal servers. Red Hat Training provided critical support for the installation of OpenShift products so that teams who were new to containers were able to quickly learn the basics and best practices for day-to-day operations.
The legacy software used previously by the Exchange was proprietary, so getting training and support presented a challenge. With Red Hat’s solutions, training, and support, the Exchange’s IT staff can keep the Healthplanfinder portal up and running so residents can sign up, check their premiums, and get the support they need.
With a modular container environment designed for efficient, self-service development work, Washington Health Benefit Exchange now has the capacity to build, test, deploy, and manage new applications and features faster. The Exchange has also significantly improved its integration capabilities between different technologies and systems, including third-party partners such as insurance providers. Deploying a server once took more than a day, as new hardware had to be shipped and installed in its datacenter. A technician then would log on remotely to complete provisioning. With Red Hat’s help, the Exchange is able to create virtual machines on its private cloud in just seconds.
With a scalable infrastructure and better API connectivity and control, Washington Health Benefit Exchange has created a more stable and reliable environment for its residents. Adopting a container-based architecture with OpenShift means the Exchange can complete maintenance updates and patches with no downtime or online outages. Today, more than two million customers are able to sign into the Healthplanfinder portal and enjoy a smooth, seamless online experience.
Better insight into performance and operations through the OpenShift web console means a lot fewer people are needed to monitor our production system now, and minimal effort is needed to proactively scale resources up or down to respond to changing traffic.
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