When Humana Inc. began looking for electronic billing software, it narrowed a field of five or six vendors down to two or three finalists.Then, the health insurance giant called Gartner Inc., a Stamford, Conn.-based technology research and advisory firm, and asked for advice. Gartner suggested edocs Inc., Natick, Mass., as a worthy addition to the search.

In the end, there were two finalists. "Our decision was made based on one word: responsiveness," says Tony Frerman, systems manager for premium billing in the information technology department of Louisville, Ky.-based Humana Inc.

"We asked company X for some documentation, and they didn't get it turned around as quickly for us as edocs did. edocs answered us within a matter of days, and it was weeks before the other company even got back to us. That played a big part in our decision.

"If a software vendor can't answer our questions and turn it around quickly when they are trying to sell us something, what will they do six months from now when they are building something for us?," Frerman notes.

Once Humana chose edocs, the software vendor built the customized applications with the bells and whistles the insure wanted. Deployment of the e-billing software used by employer groups-from the beginning of the selection process in 2001 to being placed into production in 2002, took about one year, according to Frerman.

During that time, Humana could go to the Web and look at the progress of the implementation on a weekly basis. "If we had a suggestion for changes along the way, edocs was very agreeable to incorporating the changes," Frerman adds.

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