Obamacare operations should have been centralized, expert contends «

    Obamacare operations should have been centralized, expert contends

    The jury is still out on what went wrong with Obamacare’s HealthCare.gov web site, but one technology expert who had a hand in setting up several successful state exchanges says he thinks he knows what federal organizers could have done right.

    Sanjay Singh, chief executive of HCentive, a Reston, Va.-based health information technology consultant, says those who set up HealthCare.gov might have avoided a lot of headaches by adopting two critical philosophies: pick a software platform that you can trust and, most importantly, select a program figurehead to which everyone must be accountable.

    The home page for Connect for Health Colorado’s websiteSingh’s company was involved in setting up exchanges in Colorado, Kentucky and New York. All three were relatively trouble-free despite the fact that each had different contractors leading those who developed the health-exchange websites. Colorado’s team, in fact, was led by CGI Group Inc. /quotes/zigman/11421/delayed /quotes/nls/gib GIB , the oft-criticized Canadian firm that led the federal effort and was ultimately replaced.

    What was different there, Singh said, was that a chief executive, Patty Fontneau, was appointed to the state’s effort, known as Connect for Health Colorado.

    “She drove everybody hard to make sure they delivered on time,” he said. “When we ran into issues, she was the final person [who made decisions] and was able to come to a decision quickly.”

    Singh points out that HealthCare.gov’s fortunes improved once Jeff Zients came in to oversee the program. Zients came in to troubleshoot the issues that crippled the website for its first two months, leaving the entity that served 36 states virtually unable to enroll applicants.

    Granted, Singh says, working on a public program is different than the many private contracts he’s held. There still are too many chefs in the kitchen to his liking.

    “The environment in which we operated, that made it a little more challenging,” he said. But the three states where he worked, the agencies made a laundry list of requests and then quickly prioritized when roadblocks were set up.