Excellus BlueCross BlueShield: Diversify and Thrive

Standing by the Kodak NexPress 2500 at Excellus BCBS are Jim Little, Catherine Ciardi, Randy Neth, Joe Ferrara III and Ajay Amin.

Work Flow Analyst Joe Ferrara III (left) and Publishing Systems Engineer Kevin Wake stand near the LaserMax Roll Systems LX 535, which runs in line with the in-plant’s Océ 7650cx continuous feed printer. The LX 535 slits an 18˝ web of paper down the middle to create two 9˝ webs, then merges one on top of the other.

Operator Ann Marie Page and Jason Cromheecke, mail team coordinator, stand by the in-plant’s Pitney Bowes APS Inserter.

The printing of wide-format banners has really taken off. The in-plant uses an eight-color, 60˝ HP Designjet Z6100. With it here are Mike Wink, day team coordinator (left) and Thomas Tresohlavy, digital color specialist.

The in-plant has started putting QR codes on the monthly summaries it prints.

Document Services has embraced new technologies and, in the process, has cemented its reputation with Excellus BlueCross BlueShield as a single-source service provider.

In this digital age, not everyone views the subject of printing in an optimistic light. But Catherine Ciardi feels she has the perfect surfboard underneath her to navigate and tame the wave of the future.

Don’t bother checking Ciardi’s prescription; she has ample reason to look ahead to tomorrow with what some may consider rose-colored glasses. The director of Document Services for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield (BCBS) in Rochester, N.Y., Ciardi has the people, processes and technology in place to meet the needs of one of the nation’s largest medical insurers (6,000 employees, 1.7 million subscribers) while ensuring the future of the 55-employee in-plant.

“As we compete as in-plants, we have to broaden our horizons,” Ciardi says. “The Web is here, smart phones, QR (quick response) codes and more applications are going mobile. Our drive here is to be smart enough and efficient enough that we can provide those services, and not have the parent company use outside agencies or vendors. We want to make ourselves relevant wherever possible.”

Document Services took its relevance to another level when it installed a Kodak NexPress S2500 in early 2007. Prior to firing up the color production press, Excellus BCBS farmed out much of its color needs to commercial printers in the Rochester area. The shop’s volume of marketing collateral jobs has billowed in the past two years, from 4.4 million impressions in 2009 to 6.2 million in 2010. The latter figure, recorded at press time, was expected to reach 6.4 million once the final results are tallied.

The NexPress is generally used for short-run, print-on-demand (POD) jobs of frequently updated forms. Custom variable printing and the ability to send out queries using sort parameters such as age, sex and demographic played a pivotal role in bringing the NexPress to Document Services.

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