Managed IT services provide a healthcare organization with the best and right mix of scalability, security, flexibility, and reliability that is needed to innovate and grow!
In today’s global healthcare industry, there is an inevitable need to offer quality care and to cut down cost. These are some of the key drivers of today’s IT outsourcing. As per Markets and Markets, the market for healthcare IT outsourcing is likely to worth $50.5 billion by the end of 2018. Among many, Canada and the U.S. are the two giants who hold the largest global healthcare IT outsourcing market share.
Over the last decade, outsourcing IT has surfaced as one of the most successful business models. It mitigates the unnecessary burden of procurement, administration, logistics, accounting, and other tasks while developing efficient and cost-effective business processes. As we speak of the healthcare industry, facing the growing challenges in delivering the required and affordable patient care, outsourcing IT services is the right decision to make.
Most certainly, no other market or industry can better depict the advantages of Information technology than healthcare. On the whole, the healthcare industry generates a large amount of data. The players or providers of healthcare are in constant need to access and electronically track the patient’s data.
This data is related to patients’ medical records, electronic monitoring systems, billing codes, or even patient care. It is not easy to manage this complex and large amount of data without having a properly managed IT function. To manage this valuable information via electronic systems, healthcare industries need to go with strong IT infrastructure.
They need the best devices to process this data such as desktops, servers, personal digital assistants, networks, and laptops. But if there is a lack of required IT domain expertise or skills to maintain the IT infrastructure, it becomes a challenge to continue providing the right patient care or healthcare services.
Nonetheless, outsourcing IT services is an indispensable solution to actually remain focused on the core service areas, to enhance quality care and to curtail cost.
Why Do HealthCare Units Need to Outsource Information Technology?
Well, healthcare management prefers to outsource their IT services in order to receive the most financially feasible solution for their worrisome troubles. As stated earlier, a healthcare organization deal with dozens of pet bytes data. So no wonder that healthcare industries are in great need of state-of-the-art and reliable IT infrastructure.
They need a structure that is capable of connecting every individual system and device that are in use by the healthcare unit. Following are some of the key drivers of outsourcing IT in today’s healthcare industry:
- Lack of in-house well-trained IT professionals
- Need for improvement and efficiency
- Shortage of right infrastructure or even funding that is needed for secured and better IT facilities
- Need to cut down operational cost in order to take a step ahead and the cut the cost of healthcare
- Government’s focus to introduce and improve IT infrastructure in healthcare along with the eagerness to offer support that is needed for its right implementation
- Gaining access to the top-class capabilities
- Freeing up in-house resources to utilize them for other purposes
With the advent of new technology, there is always a learning curve. Most healthcare units are not always in a position to focus on hiring and training the IT staff. There is a dire need to rather concentrate on the core business i.e. offering the best patient care and providing the top-notch health care services.
An IT service provider is a risk-sharing partner, thus, it introduces only the best-practice solutions to a healthcare unit. This eventually helps in improving service levels throughout the organization and not just in IT.
Technologies that a HealthCare Provider Can Outsource
As per the claim of Analytics of Future Market Insights, the following are the most famous solutions in the global IT healthcare outsourcing:
- Electronic Health Records
- Hospital Information System
- Revenue Cycle Management
- Pharmacy Information
- Laboratory Information Systems
- Clinical Decision Support
- Hospital Management Systems
- Hospital Inventory Management
- Other important applications like PACS – Picture Archiving and Communication Systems
We cannot say that it is all a healthcare organization has to outsource in terms of information technology. The list is by no means conclusive or complete and the outsourcing opportunities for healthcare industry look promising.
But there are also some concerns or challenges that affect healthcare organizations’ decisions. Some of the biggest challenges to outsourcing include:
- Resistance to outsource by the management as they want to handle their information technology in their own way
- Allowing the 3rd party to access all internal processes and information
- Holding on to the belief that the services will not be provided effectively by the outsourced company.
It is true that technology still needs to overcome certain constraints such as the risk associated with a lack of standardization with regards to entering information or data or storing it. This causes a huge gap between the expectations of the healthcare provider and what a 3rd party has. This gap adversely influences the relationship between the healthcare industry and outsourced service providers.
It is not surprising that information technology has never been taken as a critical segment of healthcare operations. Traditionally it has always been viewed as more of an administrative function. Even though, in the past few years, information technology has played a very important role in providing and delivering only the quality of patient care. As a result, today’s healthcare organizations are now increasingly relying on IT as one of the essential components of their operations.
What companies use HealthCare IT Outsourcing?
If you think that only small projects use such services, it is not so. A lot of large market players took advantage of the services of remote developers and came to success. Here are several well-known healthcare projects that have used the services of third-party companies for their development:
- Aeroflow HealthCare
The company has developed several solutions that have earned wide popularity among healthcare institutions and patients. Such as Electronic Health Records, Healthcare Analytics, Clinical and administrative mobile app and others.
It is a well-known US provider of durable medical equipment (DME) and service in the Southeast. The list of Products & Services covers almost all areas of medicine.
The name stands for Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education. The project has spread widely in the UK due to the fact that they used outsourcing development services.
Another great European app for healthcare. It quickly gained popularity among hospitals and patients due to its convenience and simplicity. Moreover, in addition to the above-mentioned companies, outsourcing services were also used by The University of Chicago Medical Center, Think Research, StatLine, Inflection, and many others.
HealthCare IT Outsourcing – Risk or Priority?
The healthcare industries are using IT outsourcing for several years now. From clinical to administrative needs, there is more and more push to incorporate sophisticated systems for electronic health records, population health management, and analytics. All of this is shifting the idea of outsourcing IT to reduce cost.
Hence, healthcare management or executives are no longer searching for any other vendor to help with cost research and realization of benefits on their own.
As per the Black Book survey:
Around 600 healthcare units were surveyed who have been former or even current users of information technology outsourcing. Out of all the respondents, around 90% report that they are near or at the full return on their IT outsourcing investment in just three months or even less.
Among them, 84% of the respondents, still availing the outsourcing services, said that they are quite satisfied and content with rendered services. In fact, their expectations have now exceeded.
Meanwhile, around 83% of healthcare units that were found unsatisfied with IT outsourcing confirmed and agreed that the strategy didn’t work due to the following reasons:
- The choice of the wrong vendor
- Neglect in preparing accurate budgets
- Unmonitored performance in terms of contracted outsourcing
- Unrealistic expectations
Despite failures, most of the HCOs are still prepared to restructure their strategies and go with a better outsourcing service providers.
So what factors determine the reliability of an outsourcing service? Let’s have a look.
How to Pick the Right Outsource Service?
The foremost thing that you must think about is to search for an outsource partner and not the vendor. A partner is not just merely an outsourcing service provider but works in favor of the HCO. They are committed to helping your organization improve the business operations and committed to achieving the goals.
They are committed and determined to provide a service that not only improves user experience but also boost efficiency and performance quality.
On the other hand, a vendor only offers basic service. They do not necessarily look for better and new ways to improve the user experience. They are nine-to-fivers and avoid going the extra mile, if needed, to meet the expectations.
Remember a good outsourcing service is the one that can take over the IT department with a range of failed experiences and turn them all around.
Insist on levels of performance and defining services
In a large or complex outsourcing engagement, oftentimes, it becomes hard to fully identify all the key performance indicators accurately and upfront. Indeed, without equivocation, an agreement should only be founded on SLAs. Among these important standards, some are initially elusive. In this case, always insist on some best practices like project management methodologies and good change management.
Outsourcing partners who are fully committed to the healthcare industry’s best practices and standards are the best options to go with. They are more likely to position your organization in a position that would help to make the impacts, your business need.
Stay completely forthcoming
We have observed many occasions in which the healthcare initially downplays the faced challenges in order to keep the cost under control. One way to define the outsourcing engagement is to first identify the challenges and then develop strategies to successfully overcome them.
Staying less than forthcoming reduces the effectiveness of both the short and long-term goals and planning that the outsourcing partner needs to undertake on your organization’s behalf.
Also, be wary of every kind of ‘up playing’ of challenges by many outsourcing services as they never let go of any opportunity to add value or an extra service or even FTE to push up their revenues.
The technology and resources
Resources and technology are the two fundamental considerations that are highly necessary and essential to consider when you select an outsourcing service. Always keep an eye on the engagement of the right tools and technologies that your outsourcing partner will be using for your IT project. You must first ascertain the technologies and tools your outsourcing partner will be using for the project along with their capability to handle all of the outsourcing needs.
In addition to technology, look for all the right resources!
Does the outsourcing partner have a facility well equipped and up-to-date with latest systems? Does this facility is capable of handling the most rigorous outsourcing functions?
Remember the choice of the outsourcing partner will set the tone for your organization’s future development and growth. Outsourcing is direct with your business operations, thus, finding answers to all these questions will eventually lead the way to handle the business functions seamlessly.
There is no outsourcing project that wouldn’t meet unexpected challenges. The environment of healthcare operations is way complex. The future of a healthcare organization is too fluid to fix every upcoming potential problem in advance. Oftentimes, the required solutions stretch the scope of the original contract but it is critical to work together and define how such new essentials fit in your existing contract’s scope.
This requires effective communication from both the healthcare organization and the outsourcing partner. This is important to establish trust and ascertain the potential for a long-term synergistic relationship. An organization can easily buy hardware or software over a phone call or by email but a long-term IT service agreement needs time and effort to fully establish a trusted relationship between the senior leadership of both the parties.
In the bottom line
Outsourced IT services offer great flexibility to today’s fast-moving healthcare organizations. It helps them to relocate their IT staff to better and higher-priority initiatives. When an HC outsource IT to a 3rd party, they get more time to focus on their teams in order to deliver value that is directly related to their mission.
The outsourcing of IT services improves the reliability of these services while increasing the scalability and security of the HCO. Outsourcing IT services to 3rd party starts with the creation of an effective strategic plan. This can be done by first understanding the fundamental objective of outsourcing. Every outsourcing project involves some price as well as non-price factors that play a critical role in assisting you to decide an outsourcing partner for your long-term outsourcing project.
Reviewing the advantages of outsourcing only, will not help much but a healthcare organization must make serious efforts to fully understand outsourcing. First, understand what outsourcing is all about and then decide whether or not your healthcare unit can benefit from outsourcing.