By Austin Ridgeway
Healthcare has certainly made strides toward providing a member and patient experience to rival the consumer-centric disruption of other industries. But while healthcare has been slightly behind the B2C (business to consumer) curve, payers and providers lead other industries when it comes to leveraging business process outsourcing (BPO) strengths such as co-creation, design thinking, and lifecycle reference-ability of processes.
Faced with the heightened prioritization of customer needs, experience, and value stream impact, health organizations are more familiar than most industries with BPOs and the value they can deliver.
Healthcare’s History with BPOs
Over the years, the healthcare market has relied on outsourcing partners that bring strategic insights, optimization, and efficiencies to critical operations. Today’s more evolved healthcare BPO partnerships speak to the dramatic shifts in how the industry is assessing vendors and to the maturity of healthcare’s adoption of these resources.
Healthcare organizations—managing a fine and often challenging balance of front and back-office demands—have worked closely with BPO providers to adapt to changing market trends, technology, and customer demand. And the BPO approach has matured from an outsourced, single locale solution to coordinated efforts across geographies to optimize talent allocation, process efficiency, and data analysis.
Some may say that these changes pose challenges to the outsourcing model. However, it is the opposite—and notably for healthcare’s reliance on end-to-end solutions. Over the past forty plus years of outsourcing’s history, many BPO organizations have transcended their roles as providers of labor arbitrage and consistently shown themselves to be true ambassadors of transformation.
Today’s healthcare BPO partner builds significant client ROI from these key strategic priorities:
Capacity Augmentation: Historically, healthcare organizations have leaned on BPOs for scalability. These providers and payers don’t want to expand beyond and break an operational excellence goal, so they cocreate and rely on a BPO partner to bring additional resources, solutions, and innovation.
Typically, when sourcing for a partner, healthcare organizations rely on vendors that can improve capacity planning and offer solutions such as robotic process automation (RPA) to augment existing resources within the process. Through these initiatives, organizations can reduce effort and close operational gaps. That in turn can help scale back some operational expenses.
Challenger Mindset: In the quest to keep bettering their own organizations, payers and providers increasingly look to BPOs for a neutral business perspective and vast domain insights, tools, and talent. To this point, healthy competition helps to shake up a cultural mindset and drive organizational change.
Often an outsourcer is brought in to challenge the internal operations champion, driving competition to improve productivity. The net result of increased pressure to succeed can be higher quality scores, improved turnaround times, and better member and patient satisfaction.
Cultural Assimilation and Alignment: Gone are the days when offshore locales were viewed as secondary to onshore locations. With the increased focus on globalization, there has been more direct alignment—and even assimilation—of partner and client cultures. This includes the fact that BPOs can fill a niche as a brand ambassador with retail-honed customer experience skills and bring access to a wider customer base.
Market Differentiation: In recent years, there has been a shift to more consultative services rather than simply answering calls. Today’s BPOs possess best-in-class solutions, and they have the scale to launch them to a broader market. The ramp up and speed-to-market can accelerate with the right BPO, one that can best work across a client’s own internal siloes and bring positive impact to other areas of the business. Today’s BPO providers can pilot multiple capabilities to truly transform end-to-end processes and bring value outside of traditional key performance indicators (KPIs) and service level agreement (SLAs).
No matter the strategy, strong BPO partnerships are built on the principles of lean operations, as well as co-creation, design thinking, and globalization. Healthcare organizations that view BPO as strictly a cost-cutting measure are missing out on the real value, which is the meaningful changes that help eliminate siloes and align objectives to achieve true operational and engagement impact.
Austin Ridgeway is director, sales support, and business development for HGS Healthcare.