By Cassandra Balentine
The evolving healthcare industry benefits from automation in business processes, enabling organizations to make informed decisions, engage patients, and maximize the value of software investments.
A recent study of the Global Healthcare Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) by Research and Markets, Global Healthcare BPO Market 2015 – 2019, indicates growth at a compound annual growth rate of 5.32 percent over the period of 2014 to 2019.
IMS Health Holdings Inc. is a global information and technical services company that provides end-to-end propriety applications and configurable solutions including BPO. The company ranked number 57 in the 2015 Software 500, a revenue-based ranking of software and software services companies. Based in Danbury, CT, the publicly held company reported $2,641 million in software and services revenue for the 2014 fiscal year.
A variety of outsourcing solutions are available to meet the needs of the healthcare industry. Vishal Khanna, VP of commercial services, IMS Health, says services contracted for many encompass a single commercial activity, a set of commercial activities, or an entire end-to-end business process. The fully integrated solutions help build an efficient and effective commercial organization that supports the short- and long-term needs of brands.
“From operational support to data management, training, and analytics, IMS Health partners with customers to build client-centric solutions that connect IT, commercial, and local geographies,” he explains.
BPO services include performance reporting, forecasting, research, analytics and business intelligence, and marketing services.
Outsourcing support can be applied to most sales and marketing business functions at a global and regional level with the engagement model designed to meet clients’ specific objectives using a multitude of approaches.
The life sciences industry is undergoing significant change as it strives to keep up with an evolving healthcare market. “The rise in demand for integrated insights, lack of in-house capability, and increasing cost constraints have forced these companies to look for alternative ways to manage their commercial operations. To address these challenges, they increasingly choose to outsource commercial functions in order to focus their attention on more value-added activities,” says Khanna.
While cost savings is a driver for BPO, the need to concentrate on core activities rather than supporting processes is also key, and helps businesses leverage their internal resources more effectively to improve business performance.
BPO in healthcare offers several advantages and disadvantages.
With BPO, healthcare organizations gain the speed and expertise of their outsourcing partner. “Customers gain access to expertise—including data, technology, and analytics, that help them effectively and efficiently manage their business,” states Khanna. He says tasks are typically completed faster and with better quality output.
As previously mentioned, BPO provides organizations with the resources needed to concentrate on core competencies. “Outsourcing allows companies to focus on their core processes rather than supporting ones, which helps them to drive better business performance,” he says.
Risk sharing is another advantage. With a BPO partner, healthcare organizations are able to shift responsibility. BPO vendors are specialized and can effectively plan risk mitigating factors.
Finally, BPO can provide efficiency, streamlining business processes to increase productivity and profit while providing a scalable and flexible operating model for cost management.
However, there are disadvantages as well. When outsourcing business processes, businesses may feel a lack of control over the functions they aren’t handling in house.
Also, some companies may feel that confidential information is at risk when functions are outsourced. “That’s why it’s essential that companies look for outsource partners with clear governance and processes to help mitigate this risk,” says Khanna.
He also points out that if the wrong processes are selected for outsourcing, there is a potential for loss of skills and knowledge to the outside, making it difficult to insource functions at a later time.
Future of Healthcare BPO
As new technologies are continually introduced, they help to reduce costs and improve quality of life. Several areas of BPO in healthcare are expected to be the most impacted by the emergence of new technologies, including remote health and sensing, mobile health and telehealth, and social media.
Remote monitoring and sensing technologies enable a patient’s vital signs to be monitored through peripheral devices and transmitted and stored to a third party. Khanna says this new data will generate the need for advanced analytics, which allow companies to derive new insights to develop new or tailor existing products to a growing and changing global population. “As the adoption of wearbles continues to grow at a rapid pace, companies will look to outsource key commercial functions like analytics to gain the expertise needed to derive new insights from the data.”
With mobile and telehealth, increased market acceptance generates more big data—specifically patient data, which need to be analyzed to generate new insights. “Both mobile health and wearables are linked to the increasing interest and demand for real world evidence in which life science companies are investing heavily,” says Khanna.
Finally, Khanna suggests that while the healthcare industry still struggles with the compliance and ethical boundaries of social media, expertise is needed to track, collect, and analyze social media data to improve both patient care and drug development. “This is a specialized skill set, using specialized technology and one that lends itself perfectly to outsourcing,” he adds.
IMS in BPO
Khanna says the company is committed to helping its clients outsource both the process and the pain of business processes so that they can maintain focus on driving performance. “Our experience in advanced healthcare information and the ability to turn that information into actionable insights makes IMS Health uniquely qualified as a partner for outsourcing,” he explains.
The company provisions operational support for more than 10,000 outsourcing engagements per year among the top 25 pharmaceutical companies in over 100 countries. SW
Nov2015, Software Magazine