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Can This Tech Entrepreneur Fix Obamacare?

October 29, 2013
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/229636

The has government announced that it’s bringing in some health-care technology big guns to help fix ObamaCare.

On Sunday, Health and Human Services published a blog post detailing the challenges faced by Americans who have attempted to use the federal insurance exchange since it went live on October 1.

“Some have had trouble creating accounts and logging in to the site, while others have received confusing error messages, or had to wait for slow page loads or forms that failed to respond in a timely fashion,” according to the blog post.

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As a result, HHS indicated there will be a “tech surge,” in which “some of the best and brightest from both inside and outside government ... scrub in with the team and help improve HealthCare.gov.”

President Obama elaborated on the surge, though neither he nor HHS mentioned by name any of the individuals selected to work on fixing the exchange.

“We got people working overtime, 24/7, to boost capacity and address the problems. Experts from some of America's top private-sector tech companies, who've, by the way, have seen things like this happen before, they want it to work,” said President Obama, who added that some of the best IT talent in the country have come on board.

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Bloomberg reports that U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, a seasoned entrepreneur in the health-care space, will be among those working on fixing the exchange’s bugs. Park was named U.S. CTO in 2012, becoming the second person to hold the position, and served from 2009 to 2012 as the CTO of Health and Human Services.

Prior to being named U.S. CTO, Park co-founded two health-care startups, Athenahealth and Castlight Health. Athenahealth is a cloud-based health-care company, helping health-care providers with practice management services. Park co-founded Athenahealth in 1997 and went on to fund Castlight Health, a health-care shopping service, in 2008.

Park’s Athenahealth co-founder Jonathan Bush says he and Park created Athenahealth after trying and failing to operate a birthing clinic. Upon realizing the need for technology to provide efficient care delivery, Bush and Park built Athenahealth in order to support caregivers through better management services.

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“Todd is uniquely thoughtful, dedicated and precise. He’s a manic problem solver, blind to partisanship. If there’s anyone who can fix the problems with the exchanges, it’s Todd,” says Bush. He says ObamaCare’s short-term challenge is overcoming the bureaucracy associated with the law in order to create access, choice and quality.

“Longer term, it’s building an infrastructure with the right people and technology that can operate in a nimble way, that can challenge and remove regulation that’s outdated and doesn’t work, as well as look to the private sector to learn how to reward both innovative and humane behavior,” says Bush.

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