CXO

Lessons to be learned from Healthcare.gov

Senior Editor Teena Hammond talks to IT leaders to find out the five top lessons to be learned from the dismal launch of the Obamacare website.

The deadline to register for Obamacare on Healthcare.gov is coming up fast, on December 23, in order for coverage to start on January 1.

Open enrollment continues until March 31, but since the site has had plenty of well-documented problems that have slowed enrollments, signing up sooner rather than later makes the most sense.

I talked to IT leaders to find out the top five lessons to be learned from the Healthcare.gov website. The results, as published on TechProResearch, were fascinating, ranging from preparing for success or failure, to always telling the truth about how well an IT project is going.

Watch me talk about these five lessons in two minutes:

 

 

About

Teena Hammond is a Senior Editor at TechRepublic. She has 20 years of journalism experience as an editor and writer covering a range of business and lifestyle topics. More than 2,000 of her published articles have appeared online and in books, newspa...

10 comments
shaw3413
shaw3413

You guys need government public health (taxes-funded).  Tax the superrich to pay for this, for the superrich do not do good things with their money.  Greed should be declared a crime. It's actually a mental disease---OCD.  It's based in the irrational belief that there can be such a thing as "economic growth forever" on a finite planet.  We need birth control enforced yesterday.  There are just too many people for the planet to sustain.  Would the superrich and hard-hearted just step off the planet to make room for those who are willing to share with others?  Please and thank you!

cloudnavigator
cloudnavigator

Well, those are five reasonable pieces of advice for practically any software development project.  In particular, the "failures" of healthcare.gov included user account creation before you could shop for a policy, which made verification of the user's identity a performance killer and generated timeouts. It also seems plausible that the IT infrastructure (real or virtual) just wasn't enough to handle the surge in activity because adequate load testing had not been done prior to going live. My personal favorite is the sketchy performance of federal IT contractors who are politically wired into the procurement process. Former federal government CIO Vivek Kundra ran head on into this entrenched bureaucracy when he started pushing for more federal government use of cloud computing. He left when it was obvious that the federal IT bureaucracy was not going to be fully cooperative with his directives. The private contractor for large parts of the healthcare.gov website has a mixed record when it comes to successfully completing major IT projects. Normally, this would not have raised much concern as around 40% of all large IT projects fail. But this was a very high profile IT project and a failure going live got people agitated in ways they never were when it took decades and billions of dollars for IT contractors to modernize the air traffic control system.

cpesko
cpesko

IT needs to hire younger people because they have more knowledge in current tech. Jobs that look for people that have 10 plus years of experience, but none of their experience is current. 

sbarman
sbarman

How about one more: It doesn't take the government to mismanage the building of a system and under-estimating its capacity. Case-in-point: the resent "system overload" at UPS and FedEX! So don't tell me industry can do better. UPS, FedEX, and the recent hacks at places like Target shows that industry is as inept as the goverment.

Maybe the problem is not the government but this industry. Maybe this industry needs to mature beyond the tech toys days and really think like a business. Right now, it is very close to where the auto industry was in 1960. All it takes is someone to write the tech equivalent of "Unsafe at Any Speed" to scare the heck out of everyone!

JTONLY
JTONLY

Honesty & Integrity are the Illegal Aliens of this administration.

JTONLY
JTONLY

Honesty & Integrity are the Illegal Aliens within this administration.

bapriga
bapriga

@cpeskoI can only agree with you in part. The best scenario is the combination of Sr and younger IT. Sr IT personnel are the strategists while younger IT perform the tactical side. The Planning and Analysis Phase are best driven by Sr IT. They are seasoned veterans and are more fully aware of risks and impact and the IMPORTANCE of proper planning. Do not underestimate the senior IT professional and I mean a true IT professional. They are on top of the new technologies and make it a point to keep up on technology. Sr IT are fully aware of the pitfalls in project management. Younger staff are good for the Implementation and Design Phase, but still Sr IT should be involved. You cannot substitute experience. You seem to associate experience as technology, but it is more than that. 

blarman
blarman

@sbarmanPerhaps, but at least in the market you have a feedback system that can threaten them as a company for failure.  That's the HUGE difference between a private enterprise and a government one.  Look at the Postal Service for example.  Runs a huge deficit every year due to unionized workers.  Look at Amtrak, which wouldn't survive without government subsidies.  Look at all the "green" energy companies funded by government grants and guarantees that went defunct because those companies had no responsibility to their customers.


The big difference between the government and private industry is feedback.  That system is wholly broken in government.

pgm554
pgm554

@sbarman 

My 2 cents,the US consumer has spoken that good enough is good enough.

M$ is a gleaming success of mediocre on a very large scale being the de facto way of doing business.


This unfortunately filters into the government mindset where excellence is not the goal,but acceptance. 


As a contractor ,I've has seen many a project fail or linger on too long simply because it's the political expedient to do.


The early spectacular failure of the government website is just the symptom of a broken procurement process,more concerned about political face saving,than IT pragmatism..

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