The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) administers programs to protect the health and well-being of millions of American families through Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), improving lives and well-being. The programs also represent one of the largest expenditures in the U.S. federal budget:
- Medicare is a health insurance program primarily focused on beneficiaries 65 years and older, those with specific disabilities and/or End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).
- Medicaid is a jointly-funded federal/state health insurance program for children, the aged, blind and/or disabled.
- CHIP provides low-cost health insurance to children of families that earn too much income to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private insurance.
Access to these programs is provided through three separate but intertwined websites administered by CMS: Medicare.gov, MyMedicare.gov and CMS.gov. Collectively, these portals act as the healthcare gateway for the American public, receiving approximately 500 million page views each year. The successful administration of these sites is critical to the delivery of healthcare services for program participants. Continually transforming the way CMS builds and maintains the portals is paramount to the success of its three-pronged mission of outreach, education and service.
Providing longstanding support for CMS’ evolving needs
CGI Federal has partnered with CMS since 1999, supporting the development and maintenance of the agency’s websites into a set of interconnected portals. CGI Federal’s services help the agency optimize its public-facing, online presence to deliver healthcare information in a way that complies with federal legislative and executive mandates, promotes data transparency and accessibility, improves the customer experience, and empowers beneficiaries, caregivers, advocacy groups and other healthcare industry stakeholders to make informed decisions about the agency’s various offerings.
Medicare.gov, MyMedicare.gov and CMS.gov at a glance
Advancing from siloed to synchronized sites through agile development
Creating, growing and maintaining the CMS websites has been an immense undertaking. Early on, the sites were comprised of a handful of static, separate and compartmentalized pages. In order to fully serve the public, the sites had to transform from a basic presence to a set of interconnected portals that provide users with a 360-degree view of the agency’s various programs.
CMS fully embarked on its digital transformation journey in early 2011 when CGI suggested and implemented responsive design web patterns, which resulted in a 400% increase in mobile device traffic. The agile development model promotes an even faster response to new and changing requirements, while still providing process rigor. CGI Federal then moved to incorporate industry-leading DevOps practices to facilitate shorter development cycles, promote increased deployment frequency, enable more dependable releases, monitor and sustain application up times to 99% and ensure precision alignment with CMS’ business objectives.
As a result, CGI Federal has increased the total releases by 47% year over year, and some applications are released after every 2-week sprint. Legislatively-mandated enhancements can be executed in shorter release schedules if necessary, sometimes in just days.
Providing tools to make personalized healthcare choices
CGI Federal has helped CMS continually modernize and improve its websites over two decades. Collectively, the sites now include a suite of interactive tools to help users compare nursing homes, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities and providers based on a number of different quality measures that users can choose. Recent enhancements include a “What’s Covered” mobile app (so users can quickly see whether Medicare covers a specific medical item or service) and the ability to pay Medicare premiums online. Combined, these capabilities provide convenient, highly customizable, up-to-date relevant information.
The portals act as a fully-integrated system that guides individuals to make choices that will benefit them the most—shattering the old notion of a “one-size-fits-all” federally-managed healthcare system.
Record online open enrollments
The goal of these transformational efforts is for more people to have healthcare coverage. Online enrollment through the website continues to trend upwards, with record enrollments in each of the last 2 years. More people are visiting the online enrollment through the site each year, increasing by 4.2% in the last year alone and leading to a 5.5% increase in beneficiaries successfully enrolling in a plan last year. These factors work together to help reduce call center volumes, thus reducing costs.
Enabling metrics-based decisions via AWS Private Cloud services
Following the successful implementation of full agile methodologies and DevOps practices, CMS concentrated on introducing new tools and functionality. In recent years, the emphasis has been on modernization and cloud adoption. CGI Federal drove the initial effort to migrate CMS systems and websites to an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Private Cloud environment instantiated and maintained by CGI Federal (in collaboration with other CMS contractors).
The new platform provided the impetus for CMS to move from older, legacy applications to modern, open-source technologies and use a fully hosted environment with CGI Federal as the source for implementing processes, deployments and developments. These changes led to significant cost reductions compared to enterprise data centers—a major goal for CMS.
CMS and CGI Federal: A partnership to advance federal healthcare initiatives
With the numerous technological refreshes over the last two decades designed to provide users with highly relevant information, CMS is now focused on a user- and web-centric approach, best practices web design and promoting a self-service channel. Thanks to a solid strategy, agile approach, the right tools and CGI Federal as a trusted digital partner, 58 million people can now choose healthcare based on what’s right for them in each individual circumstance.