A Look Ahead: Healthcare
by Ken Neal
March 20, 2017
This is the second in a three-part series providing “a look ahead” at evolving business developments that are occurring in major industries. The insights I share are based on our work with clients as well as discussions with high-level executives about best practices, the latest technologies, labor needs and effective outsourcing strategies. In this post I will focus on the healthcare sector. Many organizations are grappling with the five major trends highlighted below.
- Looking ahead, there is a place for business process outsourcing in the healthcare industry. There are many factors unique to each individual institution that make it difficult to offer a blanket forecast for the entire industry. Factors such as the size, location and degree of specialization of a given hospital may affect its propensity to rely on outsourcing. However, many institutions do expect that at least some functions will continue to be outsourced in the future as hospitals seek cost savings.
- The healthcare industry uses both industry-specific and general forms of business process outsourcing. Many hospitals use temporary doctors and nurses, and outsource functions such as food preparation and housekeeping to specialized firms. Back office administrative functions such as billing, medical supplies materials management and accounts payable are also outsourced.
- Healthcare institutions faces an array of diverse technological, economic and regulatory changes. The implementation of electronic medical records is already widespread. Hospitals are being forced to adapt their business models as reimbursement patterns change in response to evolving healthcare laws. This is also a major challenge.
- The impact of automation in healthcare is noteworthy in specific areas. While many healthcare functions remain impossible to automate with current technology, technologies such as robotic surgery and electronic medical records systems have resulted in cost savings, enhanced efficiency and improved business and patient outcomes.
- Maintaining adequate staffing is a major labor-related challenge for healthcare institutions. Some organizations report difficulty in hiring sufficient number of doctors and nurses to meet their needs, with undesirable shifts such as overnight and weekend hours being particularly challenging to staff.
I would add to the above bullet points that another key healthcare industry trend is the need to maintain an unimpeachable information governance program with consistently well implemented and documented procedures. Inefficient recordkeeping puts protected health information at risk. This in turn increases the exposure of healthcare providers to financial penalties and legal action. There are also other business benefits to maintaining an efficient program. As an example, for one of the nation’s most highly rated healthcare organizations, we implemented a solution that is yielding many significant benefits. Among them: an estimated savings of $158,000 annually in records storage costs and a projected reduction in records management spend totaling $1 million within five years.
In my next and final post in this series, I will spotlight trends in manufacturing. In the meantime, feel free to visit the Healthcare Services page of our website. There you can find additional insights in the form of white papers, research reports, case histories and more.