Healthcare IT outsourcing has seen a significant surge in usage and applicability in recent years. During the height of the pandemic, healthcare teams found themselves stretched thin to not only care for sick individuals in person, but also remote patients through telehealth and remote patient monitoring. Add to that the challenge with maintaining secure, connected systems to deliver patient care and support healthcare teams, the difficulties quickly grew to a point that necessitated an increased reliance on third-party providers to offer some resource relief in addition to new skills and experience with newer technologies.
An increasing need for healthcare IT outsourcing
The healthcare industry continues to battle staffing shortages amid rapid change, increased expenses, and stringent regulations. Staffing shortages can be seen across all areas of the healthcare environment, from clinical staff to IT and others. The problem isn’t confined to challenges with managing workload, it also can have a significant impact on a hospital’s financial performance.
Dr. Darin Vercillo, chief medical officer at About Healthcare, recently shared with Healthcare IT News, “The way health IT can help ease these [staff] shortages is to create visibility across these organizations, even across competitive systems so they can better work together and load-balance patients to the appropriate places. . . A tech-enabled automated process shortens the patient's length of stay, frees up resources and decompresses the bottleneck – whether in the ER, the post anesthesia care unit or from another inpatient hospital bed.”
The most significant benefits of health IT outsourcing include:
- Better patient and caregiver experience
- Reduced costs and improved financial performance
- Access to experienced resources and skills, especially as it pertains to new technologies
- Increased efficiency and productivity
- Introduction of automation, AIOps, and DevOps
- Reduced errors
- Increased flexibility to adapt to changing market needs
Healthcare organizations often leverage outsourcing partnerships to widen their profit margins. With costs rising, improving efficiency and improving financial performance through healthcare outsourcing has become a key strategy for many hospitals. As demand increases for cloud-based solutions, electronic health record support and integration, digital billing and payment, and more, health IT outsourcing will increase as well. The benefits of health IT outsourcing are plentiful, but there’s a caveat — reaping the full benefits requires selection of the right outsourcing partner.
Profit over patients?
There is an element of risk associated with selecting a health IT outsourcing partner. There are potentially medical, ethical, and legal ramifications if you get healthcare outsourcing wrong.
A 2021 report by the Mayo Clinic cites the lack of control associated with outsourcing as a risk potentially affecting:
- Inconsistencies in established care standards
- The volume of medical errors
- Employee and patient satisfaction
- Reputational damage
- The morale and income of clinical teams
- Long-term financial performance
To avoid these potential consequences, it’s important to thoroughly vet any new outsourcing partner. Unfortunately, current staffing shortages make it difficult for internal teams to go through the process with that level of detail. By seeking the advice and support from experts like the Windsor Group Sourcing Advisory, teams can get the support they need without the added pressure of assessing and vetting numerous options.
Outsourcing revenue cycle management
Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) is a commonly outsourced service in healthcare. RCM is a critical function within the healthcare environment, providing a reliable, secure process for tracking, collecting, and reconciling payments. It also is a perfect candidate for outsourcing to reduce errors and improve the reimbursement process. When selecting a healthcare IT outsourcing partner to support RCM and cash flow, be sure to:
- Establish success metrics for tracking ROI. Set targets for minimum acceptable performance and establish protocols for how to handle poor performance.
- Establish communication channels and both service and experience metrics. How is feedback shared? What are the standards for customer service? How will you handle crisis situations? How will you keep the lines of communication open?
- Veer away from historical technology metrics (e.g., server availability) and, instead, focus on service/business metrics (e.g., Admission system availability).
- Align performance benchmarks against regional or national standards. Are your benchmarks appropriate? What is your process for regularly assessing and updating them?
- Discuss methods for staying current with latest technology. Outdated tools will quickly drain the efficacy of your health IT systems and processes. Have a plan with your chosen provider to assess the health of your current systems on a regular basis and recommend new technologies, when appropriate.
Healthcare IT outsourcing is a partnership. The idea is to incorporate the provider into your workflows in a way that enhances the operational performance of the entire organization. How can you get there? Outsourcing requires due diligence upfront to establish the right partnerships.
The Windsor Group Sourcing Advisory is the trusted partner of some of the largest and most innovative healthcare organizations in the country, as well as many of the most respected and successful healthcare IT outsourcing providers. We help our partners during the solution and provider selection process along with assisting in the development of key strategies that have a direct impact on their bottom line. Contact us today to find out about Windsor Group’s unique engagement model that reduces time, cost and risk in identifying and implementing the right outsourcing solution, with the right outsourcing provider, for your specific healthcare IT requirements.