Custom Software Apps & SharePoint Consulting

A Case Study in Database Integration and Software Modernization

Entrance Software was asked to integrate with a back-end Oracle database storing millions of records and billions of relationships to create a simple, fast, and reliable search interface.

The Problem

CoastalComp HealthNetworks (CCHN) negotiates the contracts between insurance companies and medical care providers, taking a percentage of the money that insurance companies save over the physicians’ posted rates. However, CCHN only receives their cut when patients use physicians in their network . If patients don’t use the network to find physicians, or if insurance companies don’t use it to price services, then CCHN doesn’t get paid.

CoastalComp’s existing web site was slow and inaccurate, and hadn’t been updated in several months and was over 5 years old. This translated directly into lost revenue as patients didn’t want to use the slow web site, and insurance companies didn’t trust an inaccurate one.

Challenges

Although CoastalComp’s web site was one of our more straightforward programming engagements, it posed a number of unique challenges to a software developer: The web site only had to perform a single task, searching a database, but it had to perform it very well and with limited resources. CCHN’s provider database is not large by Entrance’s standards, but complex search criteria are required to ensure that only the most useful results are returned, and that they are ranked in the correct order. Entrance spent most of the development time for this project optimizing the search criteria and writing custom database functions, stored procedures, and materialized views to eliminate any bottlenecks to performance.

The Solution

Entrance Software created a new web site for CoastalComp based on a template that CCHN purchased. A search form on the web site was integrated directly with CCHN’s back end Oracle database to ensure that the information on the web site was always up-to-date and always accurate. Entrance Developers used Oracle ‘Materialized Views’ to reduce the amount of data to be searched and simplify the complex database structure into one that could be searched quickly. Use of this advanced database technique decreased the time to search from minutes (unacceptable) to seconds (ideal).Entrance built several advanced search techniques into the CCHN web site, including a geographic radius search and results ranked based on zip code, services provided, and preferred provider status.

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