“You can’t write that!” If I ever needed motivation, telling me what I cannot do is usually sufficient.
What if you threw a party, and a bunch of people popped their head in the door, looked around, and decided that their best option was to go to the Laundromat? What if ninety-eight percent of the people did that?
The new and improved healthcare.gov 2.0—or 0.02 depending on your perception—launched today. One million visitors—there was no information regarding how many of the visitors were from the CGI Group (the Canadian firm that sort of developed dot-gov-1.0.) Twenty thousand applications. Two percent of the visitors, .02. If only two percent of any organization’s potential buyers, or visitors to an organization’s website buy, it could suggest one of three things:
- The visitors found nothing that compelled them to part with their money
- The visitors had a poor user experience
- The visitors believed their other options were better
According to reports, the number of uninsured Americans dropped five percent last year. In order for the government to be the country’s only payer, if in fact that is their goal, they need a plan that does not rely as much on attrition. Those same reports show that the fine for being uninsured has been quadrupled, from $95 to $395.
While it seems one can make a compelling argument to recast healthcare, I am not convinced that the current approach is the compelling argument; especially after hearing repeatedly that the Affordable Care Act’s architect, the mountebank from MIT, boasted about how the success of the Act depended highly on the stupidity of the American voter. Based on the Act’s adoption metrics, perhaps Mr. Mountebank overestimated our stupidity; at least I can hope mine was.
But then again, I digressed. The one teachable moment from last year’s launch of the ACA is that user experience matters. People do not want to work hard to do what you want them to do on your website.
Now I would be remiss if I did not segue directly to the website of any of the health system, remiss if I tried to compare the functionality of healthcare.gov to the functionality of any health system’s website. And why would I be remiss? Because the healthcare.gov site, despite its inadequacies, no matter how dysfunctional it was, still had a degree of functionality.
Not so when it comes to the functionality of the websites of most health systems. At least healthcare.gov presents the idea, no matter how illusory or gossamer it may prove to be, that the people who go to the site can acquire an insurance policy that will benefit them.
Permit me to beat or re-beat a dead bovine with a stick. Health system websites. Your health system’s website. Repeat this mantra after me. Once someone has visited your health system’s website once, is there any compelling reason for visiting it a second time?
Once you have read what the site’s authors want you to read, is there any reason for you to read it again. For those who may be reading my little missive for the first time, thank you for having made it this far. Before you write me off, go to the website of your health system, and try to do something…anything. After a minute or two it will occur to you that the only thing you can do online is read what the health system wants you to read. And once you’ve done that there is no reason to revisit the site.
And so your point is….? My point is this. Healthcare.gov, no matter how inadequate its offering, at least it has an offering…do this, sign up for that, enter your data. At least it has a call to action, at least it asks its visitors to commit to doing something.
What do the websites of most health systems ask of their visitors? They ask them to read. Read something. Please. Sort of like the book-of-the-month club, only without the benefits and discussion group.
You know better than me, that the likelihood of you learning anything profound from having read my little rants is small. That is because the reading level and the points I attempt to make are tailored at a ninth-grade reading level—and before you take umbrage with those words, that is the level to which the New York Times writes.
I hope what it really means is that there are many measurable, achievable, and cost-effective ways to improve patient access, engagement, and experience that do not require an MD or a PhD. All they require is someone willing to lead who is willing to say, “We make it way too difficult for people to do business with us.”