The global healthcare industry has evolved significantly in the last decade. The industry and its associated healthcare costs have been growing exponentially, spurring the industry’s drive to reduce these costs while still providing quality healthcare.
The first attempts of industry participants (participants such as hospitals, clinics, health maintenance organizations or HMOs, government health institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and other healthcare and allied workplaces) to outsource healthcare services was outsourcing to specialist organizations outside the medical facilities, but within the same country. This was appropriate and worked well for the healthcare outsourcing of clinical services, but the industry later realized that the large sector of non-clinical services could be successfully outsourced offshore. The majority of these non-clinical services are services under the healthcare information technology (HCIT) or healthcare information management (HIM) sectors.
In the past, only certain non-clinical services, such as billing and customer relationship management (CRM), were outsourced. Increasingly, whole healthcare information management systems are being outsourced, not just by large organizations, but even by medium-sized organizations. According to the report, “Healthcare IT Outsourcing Market: Global Forecast to 2018,” the global HCIT market is forecast to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.6% over five years, increasing from approximately 35 billion dollars at the start of 2013, to jump to 50.4 billion dollars by 2018.
Advantages of healthcare information technology outsourcing
The reason for these huge forecasts is that providers (also known as “sources” of services) see the many advantages of outsourcing healthcare. In the global healthcare outsourcing market, the Philippines is considered a very strong provider or “destination.” Among the advantages of outsourcing healthcare services to destination countries are the following:
- Reduced costs and increased operational flexibility. Reducing costs and, thus, enhancing processing speed, and saving on operational expenses are major benefits of outsourcing in any industry, including the healthcare industry. For example, in the United States, where three-fourths of US healthcare companies currently outsource their requirements, the recently passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also known as Obamacare (for the current American President Barack Obama), aims to expand access to healthcare insurance to as many as 40 million Americans by 2016, and lower the cost of healthcare spending. Thus, there is accelerating pressure on healthcare companies to outsource labor-intensive IT and information management processes, such as verification for coverage eligibility.
- Availability of a large talent pool with appropriate high-level skills in many functions. Global outsourcing powerhouses, such as the Philippines, have many skilled nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professionals who are knowledgeable in medical jargon. Among the most commonly outsourced healthcare IT management services are claims processing, human resources (HR) services, CRM, finance and accounting, medical billing and coding, and medical transcription. To illustrate, in medical transcription (medical transcription is the process of converting voice-recorded reports, dictated by physicians or other healthcare professionals, into text format), correct transcribing of reports is essential as these are used to record patients’ treatment history to assure proper continuity of care.
- Provision of innovative solutions to increase sales, cope with interoperability, and improve customer satisfaction. Healthcare consumers and patients demand better service and convenience. A healthcare outsourcing provider adheres strictly to compliance standards and policies that reap high overall customer satisfaction. Happy customers will likely become repeat customers.
The healthcare outsourcing sector can look forward to more dramatic growth that can only be good news for both source and destination countries. An outsourcing destination such as the Philippines can offer to source countries the skilled people, infrastructure, credibility, industry and government support and—most importantly—the commitment and desire to excel in healthcare outsourcing.