Over the past two and a half weeks, millions of Americans visited HealthCare.gov to look at their new health care options under the Affordable Care Act. But many have met with frustration, from trouble creating accounts and logging into the site to confusing error messages to slow page loads to forms that failed to respond in a timely fashion.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) admits that the experience has not lived up to expectations and vowed a commitment to doing better. But part of the solution only made matters worse: IT administrators implemented a virtual waiting room that further confused visitors. More capacity was added and fixes were made but the problems continue.
“To ensure that we make swift progress, and that the consumer experience continues to improve, our team has called in additional help to solve some of the more complex technical issues we are encountering,” HHS said in a Sunday blog post. “Our team is bringing in some of the best and brightest from both inside and outside government to scrub in with the team and help improve HealthCare.gov.”
Damaging Customer Relationships
As it turns out, Verizon is part of that team. We caught up with telecom industry analyst Jeff Kagan to get his thoughts on the Obamacare Web site disaster and Verizon’s chances of saving the crashing-and-burning platform. He told us enlisting the help of industry experts like Verizon is what Obama’s administration should have done from the start.
“When companies launch a national product, they start small and test. They start in one or two markets, find out what needs fixing, fix it, and then test some more. Then they expand the rollout and make sure it's ready to go. Once there are no more problems then -- and only then -- do they roll it out nationally,” Kagan said. “They do this because they know there are always problems up front. They also don't want to damage the brand relationship they have with the customer.”
Obama’s administration, then, neglected a cardinal roll out rule. Now, the White House is scrambling to save face. It’s a good lesson for companies of all sizes planning new technology rollouts. Obamacare was already controversial enough without having major issues keeping a Web site up and running. Customer relationship management, or in this case citizen relationship management, is critical at (and beyond) launch.
Will White House Start Over?
“Will Obamacare work? I don't know,” Kagan said. “However, I do know the Web site is not working and it will be a while before it does.”
As Kagan sees it, the Obama administration has two choices. Scrapping the current site and starting over, he said, would be the smartest and safest route but it will also take the most time. The second choice is fixing the current site. Kagan said the current site will never work as well as a new site would, but it will be on the market much faster.
“Based on what we know by watching the government, that is the path I bet they will take,” he said. “If only we could get the elected government officials to think and act like executives.”
GB in Montana:
Posted: 2013-10-28 @ 3:25pm PT
If they can't keep a consistent cell signal for their paying customers, why would a person think they could fix a national computer/network problem?