You’re Making My Point! Thoughts About the New US Health Insurance Marketplace

There is no denying that the rollout of the new Health Insurance Marketplace in the US has been a debacle. After all, the person ultimately responsible for the project testified before congress and said, “Hold me accountable for the debacle; I’m responsible.”

Now the finger pointing has begun.

Who’s to Blame?

This sort of thing happens all the time. An organization deploys a new service and it does not perform as expected. The next two steps happen in parallel and at various levels of the organization: scramble to fix the problems and figure out who is going to take the blame.

Read: 6 Frightful Contact Center Experiences

Usually the blame game happens behind closed doors, with the IT staff answering to the CIO, and the CIO answering to the rest of the management team. In this case, it’s happening at congressional hearings and it’s painfully public for everyone involved.

It’s still early to tell exactly what happened, but it’s already clear that the system was not sufficiently tested before going live. There are also indications that people knew, based on preliminary testing, that large scale problems were likely.

This raises some interesting questions.

What’s the Right Call?

Hindsight is 20/20, but it looks like someone decided to take the risk and go live despite questionable test results. Apparently, the attitude was, “Let the users test the system for us and we’ll fix problems along the way.”

Read: Are Customers Seeing Your Problems Before You Do?

Clearly, the right decision would have been to delay the project and conduct end-to-end testing. No brainer, right? Not exactly.

Delaying a project, even if it means a much smoother rollout, has consequences. You need to rewind this one a bit further and develop a solid plan from the get-go, including end-to-end testing and monitoring, to avoid what we’re seeing now.

What About the Side Effects?

Lots of people who designed and deployed the Health Insurance Marketplace Contact Centers were probably breathing a collective sigh of relief at one point, knowing that they were not making news headlines. I’m guessing that tranquility ended when they heard the president say, “And in the meantime, you can bypass the website and apply by phone or in person.”

That means they’re going to have to deal with a large volume of phone calls they weren’t initially expecting. Are their systems ready to handle that kind of traffic? We’ll see.

So let me ask you – what actions do you take to ensure your contact center communications system is ready to go live? And what are you doing to make sure everything keeps going correctly once it’s been deployed? Crossing your fingers? Or something more?

Looking for more information about predeployment testing? Check out Ten Tips for Developing a Powerful End-to-End Contact Center Testing Plan.

Want to learn more about monitoring your contact center systems on a consistent basis, so you can discover issues before your customers do? Read Perform – Monitor to Assure a Great User Experience.

Contact Empirix today to discover how you can
preempt technology issues, ensure peak level performance, and
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your business and delight your customers.

Written by Tom Lynch – Tom on LinkedIn | Posts by Tom
Tom is an Empirix veteran who is an expert in VoIP, Unified Communications and Contact Center systems. He has nearly twenty years of experience in the technology world, and has spent much of his time successfully developing testing and monitoring solutions for Enterprises and Service providers alike.

One thought on “You’re Making My Point! Thoughts About the New US Health Insurance Marketplace

  1. Robert Hubbard says:

    I’m presently testing an environment that the engineers in Germany continue to claim that everything works fine and when we test it here in the states, we keep finding problems. We have clients that are waiting for for a “go live” and we’re not ready. We finally had to bring the engineers into the environment and let them see the issues in real time. Engineers tend to build for themselves and expect the client to accept what they built, rather than build to the client.

    The Healthcare.gov site is an example of not testing with the “clients” and expecting what they delivered from their internal testing to be sufficient. Note that it took a year for the Massachusetts site (Romneycare) to be fully operational, but it is working in that state, California, Kentucky and most states where it hasn’t been obstructed, hence the need for the federal site.

    Complexities of systems that have to incorporate multiple disparate data sources, requires “test-to-break” methodologies not “it didn’t break, so it’s ok” which always breaks in the real world.

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