HealthCare.gov team improves site response times

Page response times at the troubled site improve from eight seconds to less than one second, officials say

Response times at the ailing HealthCare.gov have improved significantly in recent days as a technology team tries to fix the problems with the U.S. government's health-insurance shopping website, officials said.

Page response times in the first days after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched the site Oct. 1 were around eight seconds, an "unacceptable" performance when fast-loading website response times are measured in milliseconds, said Jeffrey Zients, a former acting director at the White House Office of Management and Budget overseeing fixes to the site.

The current page response times are now less than one second -- or "1,000 milliseconds," as Zients described it -- but the team working on that issue still has a "lot to do there," he said during a press briefing Friday.

The tech team working on HealthCare.gov is on track to meet an HHS goal of having the site work smoothly for most users by the end of November, Zients said. The team had a "frustrating" setback this week with hours of outages last weekend and Wednesday night due to a hardware problem at hosting provide Verizon Communications, he said.

The HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services [CMS] has brought in "dozens" of outside tech workers, including employees of other agencies and companies such as Google, Oracle and Red Hat, a CMS spokeswoman said this week.

The team has cleared "dozens" of items from a so-called punch list of priority fixes this week, said Julie Bataille, director of communications for CMS.

The workers fixing the website are divided up into four general groups, Zients said: an application and software team largely working on making the website faster; an infrastructure and hardware team focused on adding capacity and redundancy; a monitoring and trouble-shooting team tracking system performance; and a security team.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius faced questions about site security during a U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee hearing. Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, questioned if the website team was conducting end-to-end security tests as it applies fixes to the site.

Asked Friday about security, Zients said the site has always had a focus on security. "The security team is continuously working to ensure rigorous protections of the system and its data," he said.

As of a week ago, about 700,000 people have applied for insurance coverage through HealthCare.gov or state-run insurance marketplaces, according to CMS. The agency has not yet released numbers of successful applications.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags industry verticalshealth careGovernment use of ITU.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesKathleen SebeliusMike RogersHealthcare.govJulie BatailleJeffrey Zients

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Exec

Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?