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Spotlight on Learning from Failure: Fixing HealthCare.gov with Sha Hwang

From emergency tech surge to ongoing operational success

Sha Hwang

Watch the video recording of this event.

When Healthcare.gov officially launched on October 1, 2013, problems with the website were apparent immediately. High demand caused the site to go down within two hours of launch, and only six people were able to actually complete their applications on the first day. These issues were eventually addressed with the help of Nava, a public benefit corporation formed during efforts to help fix HealthCare.gov's troubled launch. Ultimately, over 1 million people successfully signed up for healthcare by the end of the open enrollment period.

Join us for this edition of Spotlight on Learning from Failure to hear Sha Hwang, cofounder and COO of Nava, share the stories behind scaling a company whose chief customer was one of the largest organizations on the planet: the United States government. You’ll discover organizational, technical, and communication challenges Nava encountered—as well as best practices for building better foundations for culture, diversity, and impact—as you learn how this small team cut through mountains of red tape to transform a highly public debacle into well-oiled (and sustainable) machine.

O’Reilly Spotlight explores emerging business and technology topics and ideas through a series of one-hour interactive events. You’ll engage in a live conversation with experts, sharing your questions and ideas while hearing their unique perspectives, insights, fears, and predictions for the future.

In every edition of Spotlight on Learning from Failure, you’ll learn about, discuss, and debate the lessons learned from failures both large and small. Best of all, you’ll discover how successful companies have addressed setbacks, missteps, and challenges and how you can grow from their examples.

What you'll learn-and how you can apply it

  • How the HealthCare.gov tech surge led to the creation of the US Digital Service and the founding of Nava
  • How Nava tackles organizational, technical, and communication challenges in its work for the United States government

This training course is for you because...

  • You contribute to complex software projects in any role—architect, developer, engineer, designer, or otherwise—and need to deliver high-quality and highly reliable experiences to users on a large scale.


  • Come with your questions for Sha Hwang
  • Have a pen and paper handy to capture notes, insights, and inspiration

Recommended follow-up:

About your instructor

  • Sha Hwang is the cofounder and COO at Nava, a public benefit corporation formed during efforts to help fix HealthCare.gov. Nava now helps federal and state programs like Medicare, VA Appeals, Medicaid, and SNAP improve their digital services. Sha has worked with clients such as the New York Times, Harvard, CNN, Flickr, and Adobe. Previously, Sha worked at Stamen Design and cofounded Movity (acquired by Trulia). Sha speaks frequently at events including the White House Datapalooza, Eyeo Festival, Webstock, and Visualized.


The timeframes are only estimates and may vary according to how the class is progressing

Tuesday, August 27, 2019, at 9:00am PT / 12:00pm ET

  • Introduction and presentation (15 minutes)
  • Interactive discussion and Q&A (45 minutes)