Outsourcing firms in RP urged to capture opportunity from US health-care law

Published by rudy Date posted on April 8, 2010

DAVAO CITY – The outsourcing industry in the country should now frame a national strategic plan with the Commission on Information and Communication Technology (CICT) to capture the likely huge opportunity opened for transcription and other medical outsourcing companies after US President Barack Obama signed on March 23 the health-care reform bill.

Lizabel Holganza, chairman of the Davao Region ICT Cluster Team, told a local business forum at the Marco Polo Hotel here on Wednesday that the Philippines’s outsourcing industry was expected to see a stream of business transactions arising from the new health-care law in the US.

But the question on how fast it could capture it before other major outsourcing sites could would be a matter of a quick preparation “not only for the medical transcription companies but for the entire business process outsourcing industry in the Philippines.”

“It must coordinate with the CICT to craft a national strategic plan on how to get the huge potential of the health-care law in the US,” said Holganza, who owns the Medical Transcription Academy here and who reported that a recent Davao City delegation to India last month was able to add a new transcription activity in Mindanao on medical coding and billing.

Holganza said the new US health-care law would expect more US citizens to be covered by the system, unlike the previous one which was limited.

The immediate relief expected from the reformed health-care system includes a rebate check worth $250 for buying prescription drugs, outlawing the practice among health-care provider of denying insurance coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, and allowing extended eligibility of young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance.

US experts polled by many media organizations in the US believed that the benefits of the reforms would not be immediate.

Holganza said this would also allow the Philippine outsourcing industry to prepare but it should not take long enough to allow other major outsourcing sites like India to grab the major slice of the opportunity. “Even now, we have scraped only a minor surface of the iceberg. Imagine that the health-care system in the US is a $19-billion industry.”

“We would expect more visits to the doctors now, more need of hospitals for transcription records of patients and including medical and insurance coding and billing,” she said.

The huge opportunity expected to be opened for major outsourcing sites of US companies and facilities like the Philippine would also present a way out of the problem of an oversupply of nurses awaiting their turn to go abroad.

“Although it’s largely a medical transcription background that is necessary in transcription and medical coding, the medical background of our nurses may be tapped in some needs of other US and Canadian companies who would prefer their workers and personnel to undergo regular medical assessment and advises than immediately go to their doctors,” she said.

“Our nurses may be trained to become chat nurses, providing services such as triage, or a general assessment of the health history and current conditions of clients, based on their medical records,” she said. She assured that chat nurses would not engage in diagnostic activities, an area designated only to licensed medical doctors.

“They can also be trained in transcription and medical coding and billing, one of the new highly paying skills in the transcription industry,” she said.

The Transcription Association of Davao Inc. (TADI) has sent scholars to study medical coding and billing in India and have been conducting their first one-week training to workers of three companies here.

The medical coding program is the first in Mindanao, she said. –Manuel T. Cayon / Reporter, Businessmirror

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