BackgroundThe Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became law in March 2010. Its aim was to expand the healthcare coverage for many more individuals and families who were not on any health insurance at that time. The other aim was to bring down the overall healthcare costs that have been high. The US spends the greatest portion of its GDP in healthcare compared to other countries. Its final aim was to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare delivery.
Central in the new policy was the registration of the citizens through an online platform provided by the government. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid services was to provide the website and facilitate the overall working of the project to ensure efficiency. The launch of the website was 1ST October, 2010.The public was to begin using it to create accounts, check the available insurance covers and check for their eligibility for government subject. The website was a failure as it could not work as envisioned. In its first week, it could only register 1% of the 3.7million people who attempted.
Project Planning and the Website
In order for a project to succeed, the project manager has to explain to all the stakeholders the key components of the project. In this first step, the basic parameters for measuring a project get defined. These include the scope, schedule, and cost. The scope will define the features of the project including its capabilities and features. It is against this that the project will be measured on completion. The schedule gives the developers the time frame required to complete the project. They have to work hard to meet the deadline. The project will be divided into stages, and each assigned a specific time. It ensures the assessment as the project goes on. The cost gives the monetary consideration for the entire project.
The second and very important stage is to define the roles and responsibilities of all the players. It ensures easy coordination and communication. Every group or contractor will then have to work on his piece in the allocated time.
Risks and Violations
The scope of the website was not clearly defined from the beginning. Several features kept on being added until a few weeks to the launch. For example, a new feature that allowed the users to browse the web for its programs anonymously got introduced late into the implementation.
Such large-scale projects require early testing in order to ensure they are in perfect working conditions. A robust testing system will ensure that several costs of failure are avoided. In the case of the website, the testing took place just two weeks to the launch. It did not work perfectly, but the launch still went on.
There were various teams working on separate pieces of the entire project. CMS was responsible to ensure the separate projects got integrated into one functional website. It resulted into successful individual projects and a poor final project.
Key inputs and contribution of individual units did not get incorporated into the project at some stages. Many warned of a possible failure, but the project manager did not heed. It resulted into final embarrassment. It would have been prudent to postpone the launch and do it after comprehensive tests. In that area, an essential rule of project management got broken.
Success of the Affordable Care Act
In spite of the failure, the project is a success on a number of fronts. It has ensured expanded health care coverage to many people who were previously not on insurance. The overall cost of healthcare is also coming down courtesy of the program. Whereas the period for the program implementation is up to 2016, there is already an improvement in quality of health delivery.
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