Electronic Connectivity & NMS

Today, Network Management Services (NMS) delivers electronic eligibility and financial transaction solutions to the buyers and suppliers of employee benefits. On the front end, our full suite of interactive employee/member self-service information systems distribute pertinent decision information in easy-to-use formats. Behind the scenes, complex integration technologies drive a continuous loop of data across disparate employers and plan networks, supporting eligiblity and financial requirements.

Benefit Buyers

Organizations such as PepsiCo, GE, and Northwest Airlines realize significant reductions in administration costs driven by advanced integration technology. For these clients, enrollment, eligibility, and financial management no longer divert valuable resources. Technically superior data transfer methods eliminate entire layers of administrative costs – the ultimate pricing advantage. BEN-NETTM, our flexible consolidated eligibility and financial database, is the conduit and warehouse for benefits information. Our Internet products serve as high-tech, low-cost alternatives – adding another option to our robust offering of employee self-service vehicles.

Benefits Suppliers

Local and national health plans, including the BlueCross BlueShield Association, leverage transaction technologies to provide seamless and consolidated services to national buyers.

NMS transaction technology provides an unprecedented opportunity for independent health plans – plugging into the advantages of an expanded network without surrendering the autonomy of individual operations. Independent plans receive the benefits of a virtual nationwide network of best practice plans without investing millions of dollars towards system build-out and conversion to compatible system platforms.

For national health plans, NMS data integration and Internet technology provide the architecture supporting unlimited virtual partnerships – now health plans can offer multi-site employers true consolidation and a 100% network match.

Until recently, the NMS MIS team had struggled with the same question that many technology-based organizations face today: How do we fulfill a growing need for programming talent when everybody else is looking for the same thing?

It was, there seemed, no practical solution. MIS managers and the HR department spent hours and days plowing through resumes, traveling to campuses, and attending job fairs. In many cases, all this work and time resulted in limited successes while projected programming hours continued to mount. It seemed all our work amounted to the job market equivalent of running in place, adding just enough programming staff to maintain the distance between our accomplishments and our goals.

The industry as a whole was also suffering as the pressure continued to mount. With demand far outweighing supply, companies were becoming more and more aggressive. Many a college student, participating in a summer internship program, received a job offer and decent paychecks tempting them away from school before graduation.

This outcome seemed to meet the immediate needs of the employer, though lack of complete technical training left that in doubt. But this solution only exacerbated the continuing supply and demand problem. And worse for the student, they lost out on the degree that might have led to a broader career and even greater opportunities.

Faced with this challenge, the MIS team put their heads together and came up with – surprise – an excellent technical solution, the NMS Intern Cooperative Program.

Starting this year, NMS college interns who have spent one semester or summer break working with the company, have the opportunity under the Cooperative Program to telecommute, working flexible hours that fit around a full schedule of classes. Interns can now attend school, regardless of the location, and still earn the paycheck that helps pay for classes. At the same time, they continue to gather real world experience within the career field they’ve chosen.

And NMS benefits as well, accessing developing talent, familiar with NMS standards and requirements, throughout the year, via the same technologies that we use to support our Fortune 500 client base.

A Case in Point:

BC is an intern who has been working with NMS since the end of 1996.

When he began his internship, BC was going to spend one semester at NMS, working full-time, to supplement his college program with real world experience. However, from the start it was clear to his manager that BC was an excellent programmer and an excellent person – just the kind of person we would love to bring into NMS on a permanent basis. But BC attends college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. A full-time job offer would put him in the same position as many other young programmers, faced with a decision that would require giving something up regardless of which option he chose.

With the development of the Cooperative Program, the lose-lose decision never has to be made. BC will continue to work for NMS, about ten hours a week, while attending college in another state.

In this case, implementation is easy. BC’s school is technologically sophisticated, with a network in place in the dormitories. Students have Internet access in their dorm rooms at T1 speeds. NMS supplies the laptop, and project-oriented work. BC supplies the ability and the attitude. And everybody wins.

With the NMS Intern Cooperative Program, what could have been just one more technical difficulty is now a problem solved.

A Simple Guide to Virtual Private Networks

Looking for more security when you are online? If you are worried about someone eavesdropping during your online conversations or someone accessing your most sensitive information, then getting a virtual private network is the best option for you.

What is a VPN or a virtual private network?

VPNs create a secure “tunnel” for your internet connections at home or at work. This service is provided by a VPN service provider, which can either be a free service or a premium service. Of course, with a premium VPN service – you can always look forward to even more reliable online security features.

VPNs are deemed necessary as the online world is fraught with security threats. There are even simple programs these days that cybercriminals and other online miscreants use to snoop around and steal sensitive information. The last thing you want is someone looking through your emails, Facebook posts, or online transactions – potentially accessing sensitive information.

By using a virtual private network, you can browse safely through secure tunnels – free from the prying eyes of those who would want to do you harm online. The internet traffic that passes through these tunnels is encrypted, making it inaccessible to others. The more complex an encryption is used in a VPN tunnel, the more secure a network is.

VPNs are especially important when browsing through unsecured networks in public places such as cybercafés and airports. There are also various VPN network connections for various categories of users – including the beginners, the advanced users, and even the corporate users – who might need more security when doing business transactions online.

A Beginners’ Guide to VPN

If you are a private user, your organization most likely provides a VPN service. This is always the case in environments such as campuses, companies, and other large-scaled organizations. If you are unsure about this, it is important to confer with your IT department and determine if you are covered. If this is available, you should power up the VPN before browsing online to ensure maximum security.

If your IT department does not have a VPN, then it might be time to look for the most reliable VPN service provider – which ensures that your security needs are adequately taken care of. With several services to choose from nowadays, it is possible to find very cheap, yet professional VPN service that will adequately meet your security needs.

There are several factors to put into consideration when looking for VPN services. Begin by looking at the reputation of a VPN service provider. What do customer testimonials say about their services? Do they have a user forum? What are users saying about their services? It is also important to dig into online reviews and determine if a service provider is in good standing.

You can also place a call or drop an e-mail to determine how responsive the company is. Are there real, helpful people behind the company’s customer service?  When it comes to these kinds of technological services, bigger is always better.

Look out for other services and frills as well. Do they offer privacy and anonymity services? What VPN server network is supporting its services? How big is its backbone? Does it have unblock censorship services? It is also important to work with a service that is compatible with a wide range of devices. Look out for the power of encryption. A 256-bit encryption is always more secure than a 128-bit encryption.