Glut of Pinoy nurses to benefit from health info outsourcing

Because of their medical background, unemployed Filipinos nurses – estimated at 400,000 early this year – are in a good position to benefit from the booming health information management (HIM) outsourcing in the country.

This is according to the Healthcare Information Management Outsourcing Association of the Philippines (HIMOAP), which said that the HIM industry grew by 172 percent in the healthcare outsourcing industry in 2011.

From $102 million in 2010, the industry’s total revenue increased to $277 million last year. The full-time workforce also increased from 14,000 in 2010 to 25,000 in 2011, the trade group said.

HIMOAP was formerly called the Medical Transcription Industry Association of the Philippines, Inc. (MTIAPI). It decided to change its name since its growing number of members provides clinical documentation, IT, and training services to the healthcare sector.

According to international market research firm MarketsandMarkets, the global healthcare BPO market grows at a compounded annual rate of 21.4 percent.

In the US, a healthcare reform law enacted by the Obama administration requires all citizens to purchase insurance by 2014. This law will expand the market of health insurance, which already counts 256 million insured Americans.

“We see tremendous opportunity for the country to seize leadership in the global healthcare sector,” said HIMOAP president JL Botor.

“The increase in our membership only means that more companies are considering the Philippines as a high-value destination for healthcare outsourcing. We are strengthening our edge as we continue to develop our potential workforce, infrastructure, and regulatory environment.”

There are currently more than 150 healthcare outsourcing firms in the country.

According to Alejandro Melchor, deputy executive director of the Information Communications and Technology Office (ICTO), many of these firms initially provided medical transcription.

However, the growing industry landscape has led to extension of services such as clinical coding, disease management, revenue cycle management, and pharmaceutical benefits management.

The large pool of nursing and allied medical professionals provides great potential for the country to be a top location for healthcare BPO.

Data from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) show that nursing still generates high enrolment rates despite the lack of demand from hospitals.

This trend has resulted to an oversupply of unemployed nurses. But with a background in the medical field, nursing graduates could increase their employability in the HIM industry.

ICTO officials have also announced that they will work with BPAP and HIMOAP to build a roadmap that will stabilize the future of healthcare outsourcing and other promising sectors.

By 2016, HIMOAP projects an additional 100,000 full-time employees and a market share of $1 billion for the HIM industry, a conservative figure compared to the $72 billion offshoring opportunity forecast in the US.

In November, HIMOAP will host the 3rd Healthcare Information Management Outsourcing Services Congress (HIMOSC), the biggest healthcare outsourcing event that will gather industry leaders, experts, and the business community to exchange insights on the developments, innovations, and opportunities leading to sustainable industry growth.

“We have already achieved much but we will continue to expand and innovate,” said HIMOAP chairman Jeff Williams.

“I am very optimistic about the future of this sector and confident that our unparalleled clinical workforce will enable us to become the world leader in the growing healthcare services outsourcing arena.”

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