Tuesday, October 15, 2013
For a Good Lesson on Business Management Go to Healthcare.gov
Right up front I have to admit that I am often perceived as a supporter of the Health Reform Act… at least among my business peers that are married to voting Red.
My commentary that the healthcare industry lacks coordination of costs, organization and accountability that are common in other comparative industries is what makes many think I am a supporter.
Part of my commentary is driven by years working with hospitals, providers, physicians and insurance groups; the other part driven from a patient perspective following my wreck in the MINI five years ago.
As many of you know, I produce and co-host a roundtable radio show every week on health and wellness. So to stay on top of the news stories and to be relevant on the shows, I have been attempting to … and finally this past Sunday morning… get a first-hand experience with the October 1 premiere of healthcare.gov.
(For those of you who have no idea… healthcare.gov is Uncle Sam’s website where folks can go and purchase health insurance.)
We all have heard in the news about how the vast majority including the then-Speaker of the House did not read the health reform bill before casting a vote.
I contend the same thing is true about the same crew… and add to it the vast lot of news journalists … who have not actually seen nor trafficked through healthcare.gov.
Putting politics aside for a minute…
My expectation would be that the website is pretty similar to the travel sites like Expedia and Priceline where you can quickly key in what you want to do, click on the best options and then click to pay for the ticket and book the trip.
When I go to Expedia to book a hotel or to Delta.com to book an airline ticket, the average time it takes me start-to-finish is about 5 minutes.
After more than two-dozen attempts before Sunday morning to get into healthcare.gov, I thought it would be a breeze to see what my options would be under what the healthcare reform advocates claim is the greatest thing launched in the U.S. since we landed on the moon.
When I finally got into the website, I was quickly greeted with a screen of text.
Lot’s of text.
Multiple syllable text.
I clicked on what appeared to be the button to press… but I have to admit I had to ponder first if it really was the “click” button.
Next came up a series of questions about me.
I filled them out.
Click to the next page.
Read the text.
Click to the next page.
Yet more text.
Click… and then a host of questions that I had to put in answers so that the system knew it was really me when I came back to the site again.
Okay… I downloaded in my favorite color… and my mother’s maiden name… and my first pet’s name… and my favorite clothes to wear… and my favorite television show… and the best dessert I ever made.
Then the system asked me if I wanted to see if I might be eligible for health insurance credits.
Six clicks and lines of text later I got to a point where I would finally see what plan options were available and the cost…
I was told that the system was still “processing.”
I looked at my watch. I had been on healthcare.gov now for more than 45 minutes.
I got up and grabbed a can of Red Bull from my refrigerator.
When I sat down in front of my MacBook Pro, the screen still posted that it was “processing.”
10 minutes later after taking my dog out for a quick walk, the screen still said, “processing.”
I picked up my iPhone and called the 1–800-number posted on the page for the help desk.
A nice older woman answered the call. She was like that grandmother sitting on the front porch of that older house in the farm fields of South Georgia.
I told her what I was trying to do.
She responded by saying…
“Now darlin’ all I can tell you is that there are lot’s of glitches in this website right now and they have a bunch of repairs to make. My suggestion is you go and enjoy this nice Sunday morning and take a walk and come back to healthcare.gov a couple weeks from now and, the good Lord willing, it will be a bunch quicker.”
I could not have staged this experience nor scripted her response any better.
While many of my friends think that I am this big supporter of healthcare reform, I hope that they take a moment and read this blog post.
Most anything that the government touches is not likely to function efficiently… nor is the government going to be accountable for it if its not working.
Those who are party loyalists actually believe that their politico can do no wrong.
Happens with those on the left. Happens with those on the right.
No question that moving forward I will promote the heck out of Obama and his team and showcasing what was created and launched under the banner of healthcare.gov.
I want both supporters and critics to experience it first-hand.
I would not be surprised if much of anyone on the outside of Obama loyalists actually came in and were asked for counsel and perspective.
Probably never considered actually “beta testing” the product.
Sure that any thought of having those who were most critical should be invited into a focus group and exposed to the system and the way it was designed to work to hear commentary and suggestions.
Oh there is no question that who ever got the contract to do the site design, pick out the pictures to post and the fonts to use delivered on their end of the deal.
The pictures are pretty and nice.
The fonts are also pretty and nice.
Well shoot… I can hear it now… that’s not in my job description.
If the website healthcare.gov is a clue as to what awaits us all with the operational mechanics of the Health Reform Act, I will borrow the Obama campaign tagline… Forward!
And I hope that smart businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs-alike… and especially the clients I work with now and at least in the next ten years… watch and jot down key insights about what to avoid doing and what to ensure is done.
What I’ve learned over the years is that if my clients are facing a lack of cost control, organization and accountability that are common in other comparative industries… I should start generating some leads because that client will not be my roster long.