6 Mistakes From Healthcare.Gov And How To Avoid Them

What Not To Do

In the roll out of healthcare.gov, thousands of American citizens were left confused, frustrated and uninsured. Managed services provider PointClick established an ebook report outlining the top six mistakes made during the launch of healthcare.gov.

For hosting providers, to avoid major problems when managing and hosting corporate websites, read on to find out six top mistakes made and how to avoid them.

"Today in the cloud market, most service providers don’t really get to the nitty-gritty of helping with planning, management and getting involved in the entire process, " said Malik Khan, CEO of Raleigh, NC-based PointClick Technologies. "If the project fails, the service provider looks bad. As a hosting company involved in the success of launching a company's website or application in the cloud, it's necessary for them to be involved in every step."

6. Sloppy Software

According to Khan, sloppy software and usability challenges are reasons for healthcare.gov's failure.

"Healthcare.gov's hosting providers made the whole foundation sloppy," said Khan. "There was no proper methodology; they got the site up and running but it just wasn't functional."

To prevent sloppy software, it is best to work together as a team and keep everybody in the light, said Khan.

"The main point about sloppy software is that it's about working together really well from developers, the way coding is done, what the hosting or managed providers are going to do," said Khan. "If you pick a team and put all of those peeps together, they are going to make details of the project and that’s how you build a successful website."

5. Load Balancing

At the launch of healthcare.gov, 60,000 visitors were expected but instead 250,000 visitors were received, causing poor load balancing, said Khan.

"You can blame the people managing health.gov but the hosting provider failed on the customer with that piece," said Khan. "A consultative approach would have helped to design a system that can scale, spin up additional servers and balance out the traffic. Everybody should think about low-testing their applications if they want to reach a massive scale."

4. Security Holes

Establishing a strong and secure site is crucial today in a digital world of malevolent hackers. Healthcare.gov was riddled with security vulnerabilities, putting user's personal details at risk. In November, 18 major issues were all identified without even hacking into it. These issues included
JSON injection, contaminated URL redirection, cookie theft and exposed sensitive APIs.

"In the case of healthcare.gov, a Government entity and pushing a plan proposed by many people, [security] should’ve been the first thing they thought of," said Khan. "It’s a big target for hackers and that's been the case why it couldn’t handle more users cause of so much traffic. So doing proper penetration testing, vulnerability assessments on the site and using some sort of web application firewall, not just hardware firewall, is needed for additional protection to beat off attacks."

3. Performance

When it comes to poor site performance of health.gov, it belongs hand-in-hand with poor user load balancing, said Khan.

For healthcare.gov, problems were due to security issues the site was having and that some codes were not working," said Khan. "If you don’t properly test the site with the code, and its not optimized correctly, it'll perform poorly. This is another way we are working with several other providers who optimizes traffic coming onto a website for better performance and having data in multiple data centers to make sure that performance is smooth."

2. Design and Development

A big problem with healthcare.gov was the use of two different developing firms and not communicating clearly to each other, said Khan.

"Not having those two developers integrate, talk and work together was the biggest pitfall," said Khan. Its not something we do but we work with designing and development companies where they have a good methodology. For us being partners with them, every customer that they deal with launching a site or anything with servers, we are always on the call with them."

1. Non-existent Project Management and Leadership

The combination of having sloppy software, load balancing problems, and especially poor project management of the site, will lead to problems for hosting providers, said Khan.

"You can blame anybody you want to blame but it's up to the project leader manager to make sure those things are addressed anytime," said Khan. "Companies like us we have clients that will help with leadership and management to bring experience in the realm of service in working with other developers and having a process in place to bring everything together."