There’s a very good argument to be made for outsourcing. A healthcare provider’s core competency, after all, is diagnosing and treating patients. By outsourcing non-core functions, providers can, in theory, reduce costs while improving service levels and patient outcomes. Healthcare is one of the biggest industries in the world and, until very recently, it lagged behind most others in its adoption of outsourcing. As the industry becomes more competitive, health organizations must learn to deliver excellent patient care. In most geographies, patients have multiple providers and health systems to choose from. It’s paramount to ensure patient satisfaction, setting providers up for repeat business and referrals. Unfortunately, providing excellent care requires substantial manpower and resources. Facilities must spend more, both on a recurring basis and with larger capital investments. Unless, of course, they outsource.
When properly managed, outsourcing helps improve patient care and maximize staff efficiency.
It’s no secret that hospitals and other healthcare providers need to lower their expenses. The cost of healthcare has risen prohibitively in countries and, somehow, this generous flow of income still isn’t enough. According to a recent Black Book survey, the average hospital will need to reduce its costs by 24 percent by 2022, just to break even. Hospitals’ cost structures have become unsustainable and, as a result, nearly every provider is at least considering outsourcing, and most have already taken the leap in one or more areas of their business.
One of the most commonly outsourced areas is IT. The global healthcare IT outsourcing market is projected to reach $61 billion by 2023. IT administration is the most outsourced area, as providers continue to increase their focus on electronic health records (EHR) and data management, operations management, asset management, and billing.
Well Beyond Health IT
But outsourcing has extended its reach well beyond IT. Commonly outsourced clinical services now include medical tourism and home-delivered healthcare. In addition to IT, non-clinical outsourced services now include facility management, sterilization, meals, patient transport, procurement, security, and more.
It’s no wonder that healthcare providers are increasingly relying on outsourcing for so many services within their complex environments. The social scrutiny of increasing patient costs is at an all-time high. Furthermore, curbing costs quickly and substantially is necessary for providers to stay competitive and profitable. Hospitals, especially, are facing dwindling margins, higher patient expectations, and minimal government support.
Filling Gaps in Resources
Another “pro” is the fact that outsourcing widens a provider’s talent pool. It can be difficult to find highly skilled, niche talent, especially in rural areas, and outsourcing can help health systems bridge that gap. By introducing knowledgeable and competent resources to manage key operational areas, existing staff is freed up to focus on patients. Outsourcing helps providers offload their most tedious management and administrative tasks so they can spend time where it counts: on making patients better. This, of course, results in increased staff productivity, greater employee satisfaction, reduced training costs and, ultimately, less turnover.