About time: Health care firms send jobs overseas

A Los Angeles Times article (Worries grow as healthcare firms send jobs overseas) laments the trend to perform functions such as data processing, pre-certification, and utilization review overseas in places like the Philippines and India. The US nursing lobby in particular is bent out of shape by the fact that some jobs done by nurses are affected.

The Times takes an alarmist view:

The outsourcing of nursing functions, in particular, may be the most novel — and possibly the most risky — of the jobs being shifted…

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.

I’m glad that companies are starting to offshore these functions. The digitization of data makes location irrelevant, so why not go where things are less expensive? I don’t know who these “patient advocates” are, but why are they more concerned about “foreign” staff than domestic? The offshored resources are acting at the direction of their US bosses, so we shouldn’t be worried they will make the wrong decisions or violate patient privacy.

The nurse lobby is always putting out scary statistics about the huge shortage of nurses in the US. By their logic, wouldn’t it make more sense to have insurance company paper-pushing nurse shift back into clinical care? If a laid off nurse can’t find a job either the nursing shortage is bogus or there’s something wrong with that nurse.

Let’s not forget that US health care is dreadfully expensive. We should encourage health care organizations to cut costs. If offshoring helps them do it then they should go for it.

July 26, 2012

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