Healthcare Information Management: Set to soar

Michael Alan Hamlin

Posted on October 20, 2012

Healthcare information management (HIM)—a sector of the IT-BPO industry—grew more than 170% last year, employed almost 25,000 mostly healthcare professionals, and generated close to $300 million in revenue. Those numbers pale compared to the IT-BPO industry overall, which will generate more than $13 million this year and employ 770,000 Filipinos in a wide variety of voice and non-voice sectors.

But HIM is not only the fastest-growing sector of the IT-BPO industry, it has huge revenue and job-generating potential for Filipino healthcare professionals. According to international market research firm MarketsandMarkets, HIM is growing at an annual rate of 21.4% and will become a $330 billion dollar industry by 2016, making it substantially larger than the IT-BPO industry, which is forecast to grow to $260 million that year by Everest.

Regulatory requirements in the US and EU are the catalysts for HIM growth. In the US, healthcare legislation dating from 2009 is transforming the business climate for healthcare and insurance providers, including the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. “These reforms are projected to add at least 30 million members to the US healthcare insured population, according to Jeff Williams, who is president of pioneer healthcare services firm MediCall and chairman of the Healthcare Information Management Outsourcing Association of the Philippines (HIMOAP).

Williams says that the reforms—combined with technology requirements mandating implementation of electronic health records and medical coding standards—are creating opportunities in the Philippines that will drive HIM growth to $433 million this year. Employment will almost double to 43,000 before the end of the year. Philippine HIM is set to grow 35% annually to $1 billion in 2016, according to HIMOAP.

Like other sectors of the IT-BPO industry, the principal challenge to HIM executives is talent recruitment, according to Myla Rose Mundo-Reyes, managing director of Total Transcription Solutions, Inc. “The country boasts of an abundant pool of graduates and professionals in the fields of nursing and medicine,” she says. But many of these professionals are unaware of opportunities in the sector. “Increasing public awareness is very important,” as a result, she argues.

Also like other sectors of the IT-BPO industry, the Philippines is uniquely positioned to leverage opportunity in HIM. “Healthcare is synonymous with compassion. And compassion is what the Filipinos have and that’s what’s driving a great part of our success in the industry,” according to Fred Kumetz, CEO of eData Services Philippines, Inc. Mr. Williams puts it more succinctly, “Unparalleled workforce. It’s more fun outsourcing to the Philippines!”

For these reasons an HIM breakout during the recent International Outsourcing Summit (IOS) was among the most popular offered. Many traditional IT-BPO providers recognize the opportunities HIM is generating, and are intent on capitalizing on them. The session was a valuable opportunity for the industry to extend awareness of those opportunities both to services providers and healthcare professionals.

HIMOAP is also organizing its third Healthcare Information Management Outsourcing Services Congress (HIMOSC) next month to extend visibility of the industry among these key publics. Organized in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology Information and Communications Technology Office, the Congress will provide the opportunity to exchange perspectives on issues such as business continuity, workforce redirection, and retooling and development.

The discussion on business continuity will focus on growth, opportunities, diversification within the sector, and global competitiveness. A closer look at career opportunities and training alignment will be the principal focus of workforce direction. Retooling and development will principally be concerned with the impact of emerging technology on industry best practice and innovation.

Approximately 200 delegates are expected for the Congress. Frankly, I’ll be surprised if we don’t see significantly more than that. The IOS breakout had almost that many participants. The Congress provides a great opportunity for a full-day discussion and networking with key industry executives. It’s also an opportunity to provide perspective on the key topics delegates will discuss, and to have an impact on how the sector develops.

“At the end of the day, it’s about health,” says Colin Christie, president and CEO of MxSecure Philippines, Inc. “It’s about keeping people well, and helping those who are ill to become well. It’s an industry that has true meaning and something that can really make a difference in people’s lives.” Mr. Christie clearly believes in the sector, and not just from a business opportunity perspective. He and others are helping people, while creating jobs here.

To learn more about participating in HIMOSC and to register, visit the event website.

(Michael Alan Hamlin is the managing director of TeamAsia and a Manila-based author and commentator. His latest book is High Visibility: Transforming Your Personal and Professional Brand. Write him at mahamlin@teamasia.com and follow him on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn. Copyright © 2012 Michael Alan Hamlin. All Rights Reserved.)

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