Hiring managed IT services is a decision many executives at health care organizations regard as favorable, but there are times when doing so to satisfy a temporary or long-term need isn't financially advantageous.
A large part of what procurement management services do is scrutinize how investments in third-party vendors will play out in the long run. Thorough investigations into these entities' previous customer relationships must be undertaken. By approaching outsourcing from this angle, those in the medical industry will develop clear perceptions regarding the following factors:
- Which technology companies are known for falling back on their promises
- Whether certain firms offer a diverse range of provisions on top of a flat or flexible rate
- How successful previous clients were after hiring particular IT services businesses
Overall, a comprehensive financial breakdown of each vendor's program will be provided to those who hire purchasing officers. That way, health care organizations can enter service-level agreements with a clear perception of what to expect.
Is outsourcing really that popular?
Apparently, professionals in the health care industry are deducing their institutions are better off relying on third parties than in-house departments. Nearshore Americas cited a study conducted by Everest Group, which discovered the global health care IT outsourcing market is increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 12 percent and will likely be worth $68 billion in 2020. A number of elements are influencing this activity, such as:
- The consumerization of IT, which involves employees accessing company networks through personal devices and leveraging easy-to-use applications with out the workplaces' consent.
- The need for accuracy and transparency when presenting patients with finances pertaining to certain treatments and insurance plans.
- New regulations are obligating medical organizations to become more IT-heavy, causing them to switch to electronic systems.
"Two significant forces are fundamentally altering health plan business models. First, the health care industry is grappling with the uncertainty of reform mandates such as the [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act] and the transition to ICD-10," said Everest Group VP Jimit Arora, as quoted by the source.
What to outsource, what to provide training for
There are some technologies and IT-related processes that in-house departments should handle, but there are others that must be carried out by third parties. Steven Heck, a contributor to InformationWeek, acknowledged two "obvious" areas in which health care enterprises should look for assistance:
- Software development: It will likely take a long time for in-house staff members to learn everything there is to know about C++, Java or some other programming language. If software must be adjusted, customized or developed, rely on a proprietary manufacturer or a group that specializes in creating new systems. Assigning this task to system or database administrators will only make development more arduous than it needs to be.
- Data centers and business continuity: Heck noted that a lot of resources are required to implement, maintain or expand data centers. Hiring a colocation provider to host data centers allows such facilities to receive the attention they require on a consistent basis, allowing in-house capital to be directed toward more constructive endeavors.
With outsourcing considered, it's important health care professionals consider the benefits associated with training in-house IT employees in certain aspects of IT. Database and network administration are two fields that must be handled independently, as this enables departments to better architect systems based on changing business needs.
In addition, it's advisable those in the medical industry resist the urge to outsource cybersecurity responsibilities. Heck maintained that consultation and third-party reviews are beneficial, but ensuring data and network protection is a task that should be undertaken holistically, by specialists who are familiar with the infrastructures.
If there are particular skill sets in-house IT professionals need to possess, enrolling them in instruction programs is the best course of action.