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CMS reorganizes healthcare.gov tech surge into functional teams

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Workers conducting the tech surge, which the Obama administration says should make navigating healthcare.gov a smooth experience for most users by the end of November, switched to a new team architecture meant to get new fixes out the door faster, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Systems announced Nov. 7.

The new protocol is to divide individuals into teams focused on particular aspects of the system's functionality, said CMS spokeswoman Julie Bataille, during a press call with reporters.

"We are able to identify particular niche areas within the overall application enrollment process, so that we have dedicated teams looking specifically at those pieces of the code and the functionality," she said.

If a problem fix becomes too complex to deploy rapidly, "it is reassigned to a dedicated escalation team," she said.

During a Nov. 6 hearing of the Senate Finance Committee, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that "there are a couple of hundred functional fixes that have been identified."

The department is working through the list of fixes, she said, telling the panel that "we're not where we need to be."

During the press call, when asked what metrics CMS will look at to determine if it achieves its goal of making the insurance application process go smoothly for a majority of users, Bataille cited page loading time and error message frequency.

During a Nov. 5 hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said the enrollment portion of the system is now capable of processing "nearly 17,000 registrants per hour, or five per second, with almost no errors."

For more:
- go to the hearing webpage (prepared testimony and archived webcast available)

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