Healthcare.gov’s broken UX guidelines

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/now-panic-and-freak-out.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Given the broken Healthcare.gov website, perhaps a silver lining lesson some of us can take from it, as we (in the US) wait and wonder, is what user experience (UX) usability guidelines it broke. From UX research/consultancy Nielsen Norman group is a ‘count the ways’ to ten. (A difference–the pictures of real people have been removed and replaced with cartoons, with wags bemoaning the loss of the anonymous ‘Obamacare girl’ on the home page, not depicted here.) The contention here is that the account setup is unnecessarily complex and may be contributing to the backend technology failure. HealthCare.gov’s Account Setup: 10 Broken Usability Guidelines  Hat tip to former EIC Steve Hards. (more…)

Non-functional Obamacare exchange websites? $500 million estimated to date. 2014? Priceless. (US)

Updated/Revised for breaking news and analysis, 12-14 October (US). Much new information noted in dark blue. (Grab your tea or coffee…this is a long one as this story rolls on.)

The mainstream reports continue to build that both the Federal HealthCare.gov site, which provides health exchange enrollment for 36 states, and many of the state-run health insurance exchanges (14 plus District of Columbia) are a nightmare of programming glitches and simply don’t work. It is not the demand–which has been high but not unanticipatedly so with an initial 8 million hits–but more disturbingly, the programming appears to be is unsound.  “Computer experts” quoted by CBS This Morning are making statements like “It wasn’t designed well, it wasn’t implemented well, and it looks like nobody tested it,” going on to say ” It’s not even ready for beta testing for my book. I would be ashamed and embarrassed if my organization delivered something like that.” A more technical dissection of the site’s multiple system architecture problems is provided by Reuters here, with the best quote “The site basically DDOS’d itself,” he said. (DDOS–distributed denial of service, a hacking technique but here, the website overwhelmed itself!) 

Counting the cost

A rough calculation of the cost has been made on a tech website, Digital Trends. Andrew Couts (who is pro-Obamacare) ran some public numbers on the IT cost of setting up the Federal part of the exchanges and add in associated 2012-13 costs, and arrives at $500 millionnot including the $2 billion to build out and operate the exchanges in 2014 (General Accounting Office). Larger numbers north of $600 million have been bandied about, but this Editor will go for now with Mr. Couts’ perhaps low estimate which has been supported by more mainstream reporting. (more…)