Captured Technology

Healthcare.gov - Development Lessons Learned

Nov 18 2013

HealthCare.gov on HyperCard

HealthCare.gov on HyperCard (Photo credit: ✖ Daniel Rehn)

Healthcare.gov - Development Lessons Learned

Before Healthcare.gov - the Affordable Care Act's centerpiece - was launched, it was positioned to fail. To understand the complexity of the web site's failure to deliver, it is essential to understand the enormity of the project - to develop a web site where people from all over the US could access, sign up and choose a health insurance program that fit their needs. Several factors contributed to the site's failure:

- The various groups clearly underestimated how massive the project was and how much time it would take for software development engineers to build and test the website. As the ramp up date got closer, speed may have taken priority over quality. Quality should have been the top priority.

- Communication between the different groups involved in developing Healthcare.gov was far from perfect. There needed to be communicated controls in place to alert players to problems. It was also crucial to have one person on board with the authority to recognize major problems and halt the project. For whatever reason, no one said "stop."

- Some observers have suggested that the project should have been rolled out in phases that allowed for complete software testing before release. This approach would have allowed time to troubleshoot and repair glitches in the system.

One of the most glaring problems facing the implementation of Healthcare.gov was the public's expectations for the site's performance at roll out - they were too high. The unexpected problems plus the political criticism at Healthcare.gov's unveiling created problems that went beyond software. development.

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