Healthcare.gov and Computer Programming

Ruth Haag
Nov 19, 2013

I am to the point on the Healthcare.gov website where the program produces a screen which says “What you would like to do today, Ruth?”  However, like so many others, I have not been successful at signing up for health insurance.  My sister recently told me that the orchestrators of this website claim that they are bringing in the “A team.”  Interesting that they didn’t start with the “A team.”  Some computer programs are so well written that we can use them with ease.  Google, Amazon, and Yahoo come to mind.  Others seem to be written with little understanding of the end-user.

Gathering data in spite of the patient

My husband Bob has been visiting many doctors over the past year and at each visit his blood pressure is taken.  I noticed at our family doctor’s that his blood pressure was much the same as the reading that I got at home, but at the specialist’s office his blood pressure was always high.  I began to look for differences in the office visits and have decided it is the computer.  When we arrive at the specialist’s office, the person at the check-in window begins staring at a computer screen and then asks if Bob’s address and telephone number are the same as last time.  When we arrived at our family doctor’s office the person at the window would smile and say “Hi, Bob.”  At the specialist’s office we would go into the examining room and the nurse would ask many questions, all the while typing into the computer, often stopping in frustration over a window that opened or closed at a time that she didn’t want it to.  After this computer interaction, she would take Bob’s blood pressure, and it would be high.  At the family doctor’s office the nurse in the examining room would talk to us about what we had been doing recently, and then she would take Bob’s blood pressure.  It would be lower.

Some computer programs are written with a focus on getting data input correctly, which I suspect is the explanation of the program being used at the specialist’s office.  With the focus on gathering the data, the actual reason to have the data is lost.  Instead of talking with the patient to determine how they are doing, a clipped list of questions is asked in the order that the program wants them to be asked.  If the patient tries to give data in another order they are asked to wait until the computer-generated questions have been answered.  It seems like the computer has taken the center stage and the patient and doctor are just bystanders.  Now the doctor can show me a the screen and confirm that Bob’s blood pressure has been high every time the computer has been involved, but that really doesn’t have anything to do with Bob’s condition or treatment.

On a similar note, our daughter commented on Election Day, that our “secret ballot” really doesn’t seem so secret when the lady supervising the scanning of the ballot into the box watches it intently while it is being input.  Her goal, I am sure, is to have the ballot scan correctly, but in the end she is able to read each person’s ballot after just having confirmed each person’s name.  Not so secret, anymore.

Good computer programs

There are some great computer programs in use.  Most self-checkout systems at stores work well, although they do require a full-time staff member to be present to solve any problems that come up.  Our library has added a self-checkout option and, after a few glitches when it started, it has come along nicely and works well.  These uses of computer programs help to reduce the number of staff needed while providing the service to the customer that is the end-goal.

Bad computer programs

On the other hand, I have yet to find a library card catalog program that is as good as the old card system was.  It used to be that if you wanted to find something in non-fiction, you could go to the card catalog and look up the topic and find the general number for the books that you wanted to browse through.  Now, if the computer terminal that you find is free and working, you can type in your topic but you are forced to choose a specific book, going through several screens before you can find the general number for the section of books that you would like to browse through.  Clearly the programmers never used the old system, and never have enjoyed browsing library shelves.

I guess I will wait for the “A team” to fix Healthcare.gov. and then give it a go again.

Do you have any funny stories about your computer interactions?

Comments

Unassumer

Not signing up. Gonna take my chances and pay the fine.

eriemom

I know of 2 local families who have been able to get through the entire process. Since, in both cases, they are not yet required to actually select and pay for their insurance plans, they haven't. Both plan to purchase plans by the December 15th deadline to make them insured by January 1.

They also seemed happy about not having to share private medical information throughout the process.

abigbear

Woman Touted by President as Obamacare Success Story Now Says Exchange ‘Screwed’ Her Over..(R)egardless of the exact number, Chao’s response is utterly devastating,” Townhall’s Guy Benson wrote. “Somewhere between 30 and 70 percent of Obamacare’s online system has NOT yet been constructed or tested. They’ve had over three years. keep pumping it up best thing besides sliced bread POS
http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r...

Stop It

Heh...she had to buy it to find out what was in it and walked away empty handed...

FAIL.

SamAdams

True. And did you note the REASON for her grave disappointment? COST. Once again, Obama's "affordable" health insurance is proving to be anything but!

(Her problems involved misquotes, etc. from the Washington state computer exchange system, which were frustrating, I'm sure. But her REAL issue arose when she found out how much the actual premiums would be which, as too many are discovering, are very, VERY high.)

There's going to be a delay in the implementation of Obamacare largely because there's going to HAVE to be a delay. Too bad. Things are crashing and burning so fast that the Democrats would repeal the thing themselves if it's allowed to run its course!

Contango

The caca just keeps on comin'!

"Obamacare bombshell: IT official says HealthCare.gov needs payment feature":

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101211556

Contango

The Liar-in-Chief just couldn't help himself, he had to go back to a page in his tired old blame game playbook.

ACA's failure? It's the Repubs fault.

"Obama says Republicans are ‘invested in failure’ of health-care rollout"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/bl...

The Big Dog's back

They are.

SamAdams

So is everybody else who has the remotest clue of what this will do to the quality of healthcare, the COST of healthcare, and the national deficit!

This isn't a Republican issue when you consider the repercussions. Or do you suggest that only Democrats will suffer under a skyrocketing national debt? Or that only Republicans will be subject to "death panels?"

Saw a great graphic on Twitter the other day, by the way. Here's what it said:

Obamacare: Where a 25 year-old should be on her Mom and Dad's insurance policy as a dependent, but a 15 year-old should get free birth control because she's an independent woman!

There you go again

No, Mr. Obama, that failure is owned by you. No Repub name is attached to ACA. Nice try, but it is all yours!!!

Stop It

So...If I'm to believe this crap... At the end of November the website will be up and running and be able to support EVERY AMERICAN that is a US citizen to sign up by the 15th of December as to be insured by the first of January?

They had better be able to take over the NSA's, the FBI's, the CIA's, the IRS's, etc.. servers to be able to handle that crapload of people.

Edit: There will be meltdown. Better ask for X-Box servers, PS servers and whatever else is out there. No way in hell will that happen in 15 days.

Darkhorse

If the health care plan is not good enough for congress, it sure isn't good for us. The whole thing is a joke and it is snowballing. It will be so out of whack that we will be at a point of no return if we are not there already when people are being caught without insurance completely. The president should be impeached. It is a fraud and a scam.

septotank

This article has hundreds of words and actually says nothing of value. This article describes the situation better (http://www.techdirt.com/articles... ), but basically it's a situation of a small company who would be excellent at doing this sort of thing not being able to win the contract because they don't have the expertise to wade the sea of red tape that comes with government contracts. The large contractors that have dedicated staff to match government RFPs rarely do good work (or they subcontract it out). Combine this with multiple contractors creating multiple cogs in the same machine, and you create frankenhealthcare.gov.

Back to the article - I'm truly astonished that the Register would post such a speculative and wandering piece. It gave no facts and all opinion. Bravo.

Nemesis

Yes, but the author put her name to it, so that makes it Pulitzer and Nobel prize material according to the Register.

Because, remember, WE are the proofreaders.

Darwin's choice

Don't worry Ruth, the is still no way for you to Pay for the coverage you choose! The website is only about 40% completed for accepting payments. There is no way it will be ready by December!

Obama/Fail

Contango

The Blamer-in-Chief says that the ACA's failure is due to the Repubs.

I'll bet that when Barry was a little boy back in Hawaii and he hadn't done his homework assignment that he told the teacher that some mean Republican boys had stolen it.

Nemesis

Ruth, if you understand the numbering system used by the library (as someone who gives such airs to being an educated "thinking person" should) then you should be able to determine the subject matter range of numbers from the number of any book you choose from the search results.

With most technology, the faulty component is the nut operating it.

meowmix

Very well put Nemesis! What we stand to gain if the ACA can survive the hysteria that is now consuming Washington and those who hated it to begin with, yet are jumping up and down about the web site not working, still outweighs the negative.
Also, I highly doubt the 80 year old woman that watches me put my ballot in the scanner can see more than 4 inches in front of her face. Grasping at straws aren't you Ruth?

Nemesis

We stand to lose far more. The ACA ignores the laws of supply and demand at our peril.

No, the 80 year old woman probably can't read the ballot, but the number of your ballot is recorded by your name, so they can track how you vote, and thus there is no longer a secret ballot.

Contango

Re: "the web site not working,"

Still consuming vast quantities of Obama brand Kool Aid eh?

Healthcare.gov. is like seeing the tip of the ice berg from the deck of the Titanic. The majority of this cluster (bleep) is below the surface and unseen.

The ship is goin' down.

Darwin's choice

Seems this is fitting......

Little Johnny and the Class Assignment

The kids filed into class Monday morning. They were all very excited. Their weekend assignment was to sell something, then give a talk on salesmanship to the class.

Little Sally led off. "I sold Girl Scout Cookies and I made $30" she said proudly. "My sales approach was to appeal to the customer's civil spirit and I credit that approach for my obvious success."

"Very good", said the teacher.

Little Debbie was next. "I sold magazines" she said, "I made $45 and I explained to everyone that magazines would keep them up on current events."

"That's excellent, Debbie", said the teacher.

Eventually, it was Little Johnny's turn. The teacher held her breath.

Little Johnny walked to the front of the classroom and dumped a box
full of cash on the teacher's desk.

"$2,467!", he said.
"$2,467?" cried the teacher. "What in the world were you selling?"

"Toothbrushes", said Little Johnny.

"Toothbrushes?!?!" echoed the teacher. "How could you possibly sell enough toothbrushes to make that much money?"

"Well......I found the busiest corner in town", said Little Johnny. "I set up a "Dip & Chip" stand and I gave everybody who walked by a Free Sample".

They all said the same thing..........."Hey, this tastes like dog crap!"

Then I would say, "It is dog crap. Wanna buy a toothbrush?"

"I used the " Obama Method" of giving you some crap, dressing it up so it looks good, telling you it's free and then making you pay to get the bad taste out of your mouth."

Little Johnny got five gold stars for his assignment!!!

Stop It

LMAO!

The New World Czar

Still had to laugh at the Congressional grilling of the 4 IT people...In unison, the answers were "NO, NO, NO, NO" when asked if they felt the website was secure.

C'mon Obamabots, please defend yourselves and your "leader"!!! PFFFFT

arnmcrmn

Complete failure and people are waking up.

JMOP

Too bad the zombies woke up after the election.