Harris' upgrade will hasten VA health benefits decisions

Harris Corp. has secured a one-year, $1.2 million contract from the Veterans Affairs Department to assist the VA Health Eligibility Center reduce the costs, errors and time involved in making health benefits decisions.

The award calls for Harris to design and develop the Business Rules Repository, which will offer a more flexible, streamlined alternative to the current system, according to a May 7 Harris announcement.

The VA center currently relies on the Enrollment System Redesign, or ESR, to manage veterans’ eligibility and enrollment decisions.

Requirements for the eligibility and enrollment system are captured in business rules managed with the ILOG JRule rule engine product. Unfortunately, because ILOG implementation is tied to the ESR application, business rule changes demand additional software development and system patches, the announcement said.

The new Business Rules Repository, however, will help the Health Eligibility Center streamline and migrate enrollment and eligibility business rules to an extensible, reusable and transparent centralized rules engine.

Harris will upgrade the ILOG implementation, decoupling the rules engine from the ESR system and making business rules changes independent from the application.

Harris also will train VA business analysts on how to create and modify rules to change the work stream of benefits applications and run potential rules changes in pilot scenarios for impact analysis.

Automating the benefits rules promises to reduce costs, errors and cycle times, resulting in more rapid, accurate, criteria-based decision making on veterans’ health benefits, the announcement said.

“The BRR will put business rules back in the hands of Health Eligibility Center analysts, making it easier for them to augment or modify rules,” said Jim Traficant, president, Harris Healthcare Solutions. “The ILOG rules engine promises to make the rule base more transparent to business analysts, empowering them to not only make changes to rules, but also run simulations to gauge the impact of these changes without waiting a full software development cycle to create the patch.”

Harris Corp., of Melbourne, Fla., ranks No. 13 on Washington Technology’s 2011 Top 100 list of the largest federal government contractors.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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