Apple and Google and HealthCare.gov, Oh My!

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11 November 2013
Donald Light
I’ll confess: I’m a bit of a political junkie. I read various blogs, commentary, and even news. “The Story” of recent weeks, of course, has been the launch of HealthCare.gov. As I read news items and posts, what is striking (from the perspective of a humble technology analyst), is the repeated mentions of Apple and Google by the non-technical reporters and commentators. Most of these references are along the lines of “Why could the feds not just have given the whole project to Apple or Google? (And we wouldn’t be in this mess now).” The implicit assumptions in these statements are that the problem is something called “technology” and that there are at least two, well-known companies that can successfully deliver really good technology solutions. In terms of technology, these comments are a bit naive. Apple and Google are very good companies, but neither exactly has a track record of delivering consumer portals with search, analysis, and transactional capabilities aimed at the complex data sets and algorithms that healthcare.gov is wrestling with. And a reader can search these political stories in vain for mentions of “project management, program management, program office, or governance.” That said, there is still a bit of wisdom in the “give the whole thing to Apple or Google” comments. Namely, that the very real achievements of both companies for delivering value to their customers and users, has set a standard for the digital world, that public and private sector organizations ignore at their own peril. Btw, having read this post, if you are still scratching your head about the title, it is homage to Dorothy’s worried chant in The Wizard of Oz: “Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!”

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