Everyone’s got an opinion on what went wrong with the launch of the health insurance marketplaces and what could have been done better. But as the tech surge takes hold and this mess is cleaned up, how should the administration communicate going forward?

Here is my advice:

  1. Stop Pointing Fingers: Admit the mistake, apologize, and provide a roadmap to resolution. Pointing fingers doesn’t solve the problem or ease any concerns.
  2. Tell us a (Good) Story: We keep hearing about the website crashing, but what about the family that has secured health insurance for the first time or the cancer patient who finally got the surgery he needed?
  3. Show us the Good News:  As we learned from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Children's Hospital recently, heartwarming videos go viral quickly. Show us the little girl excited about visiting the dentist for the first time or the mother receiving lifesaving treatments she couldn’t otherwise have afforded.
  4. Target the “Invincibles”:  Healthcare reform is about more than a website. Without buy-in from the young and the healthy, it won’t work. We can’t ignore the invincibles.
  5. Make it Matter: In Massachusetts, we have long accepted healthcare reform…but in other parts of the country, there are many who are still unsure whether it was the right move. Describe the need and the benefits in a context that will matter to Americans.

There have been a lot of missteps around the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act, but this is what we know from our own experience in Massachusetts: a few bumps in the road don’t have to derail the train.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza via whitehouse.gov