By now you have certainly heard how a balky website (healthcare.gov) is keeping uninsured Americans from their health insurance coverage. It’s interesting how, in a few short years, we have come to expect that a website visit is the only way to learn about a product or service and make a purchase. (For the record, I just came back from Barnes & Noble, the only bookstore within 20 miles of where I live, to buy SAT preparation books for my son.) I must say that it was a thrill to hear President Obama give a speech about a malfunctioning website.

Although that sounds like bad news, it sheds some presidential light on our relatively quiet industry: website development.

One Option For Interaction?

It seems that the federal government has designed an offering, called a marketplace, that exists only on this one website where Americans can shop and purchase health insurance. Is there any other government service that provides only one option for interaction? You can:

  • Prepare and file your taxes using software by many vendors, or even by printing and mailing your tax forms and payment
  • Order a passport from many third-party agencies, or even visit the post office or library for an in-person consultation

Can’t health insurance provided by the Affordable Care Act be purchased by phone, in person, or, as most of us purchase insurance, through a network of agents who are trained to determine the best possible solutions? I’m not saying that a website is not the ideal place to shop for or buy insurance, but surely there should be other avenues available during the roll-out process while the website is refined and perfected.

Where Healthcare.gov [Probably] Went Wrong

Dynamics Online has been a vendor to government agencies at the local, state and federal levels. In each case, we were contracted to develop a website that met a very specific set of specifications. After all, that is necessary when answering a request for quote designed to allow the agency to compare apples to apples and select the lowest bid. That situation did not allow us to engage in the usual creative consultation where we learn more about the client’s needs and discuss solutions. We built the website that was requested, no more and no less.

I have to believe that is what happened in the case of healthcare.gov. My experience suggests that the faults with the website originated in incorrect or unrealistic specifications provided by the government agency overseeing the site development, rather than with some rogue developer who could not follow instructions.

My suggestion to those looking to participate in this new program…wait until they publish a phone number, open an office, hire sales agents. Maybe by then, the website will be straightened out and you can do your business online. Just remember, you’ve got options.


Bruce-G+-ImageBruce Newburger is the Founder and President at Dynamics Online.
You can reach him by calling (216) 292-4410.