- Manufacturing Demand
WASHINGTON — After years of shipping data-processing, accounting and other back-office work abroad, some healthcare companies are starting to shift clinical services and decision-making on medical care overseas, primarily to India and the Philippines.
The spokeswoman, Kristin Binns, said WellPoint's shifting of clinical jobs overseas was a small part of the outsourcing and being done through Radiant because it has the technical expertise and can ensure compliance with laws.
Patient advocates worry about crucial decisions involving a patient's care being in the hands of foreign insurance adjusters.
Analysts said there was another concern as well: patient privacy.
In general, hospitals are moving more slowly than health insurers to send jobs overseas. But with financial pressures intensifying and the uptake of electronic record-keeping accelerating, analysts and industry people see more consolidation and outsourcing ahead.
"When you have people's medical, billing and other records kept electronically, then it opens it up to establishing a call center virtually anywhere," said Steve Trossman, a Los Angeles spokesman for the Service Employees International Union, which represents hospital workers. "There is no longer a reason for it to be physically in the same place as the paper records."
Moreover, the healthcare reform law could prod insurers to move more jobs to cheaper-wage countries. The new law requires companies to spend 80% to 85% of premiums on medical care, limiting the amount available for administrative expenses.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is planning a technological revolution that could spell the end of the traditional doctor’s surgery. A new system of “virtual clinics” is being planned in which GPs connect with patients via iPads and Skype, an idea that NHS bosses are importing from India. The reforms would save £2.9 billion “almost immediately” and improve the lives of most patients, for example by avoiding the need to find child care during appointments, Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said last week.
According to a study from researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine, patients who receive care through an e-visit may be overprescribed.