The pressure on governments to deliver healthcare services is growing. They are trying to understand demand, supply, utilization, price and quality of healthcare. How do you do all this in an age when governments are largely cash strapped?
Not easily. The problem is severe. A September 2012 World Health Organization regional committee meeting reported that in Europe alone, 41 of the 53 WHO countries do not have the capacity to address the challenges of the 21st century1.
In the US, total health care spends were a staggering 17.9 percent of GDP2. Similarly, several other nations such as Canada and New Zealand find that their health care spends are 10 to 11 percent of GDP3.
The story these numbers tell is clear: In some geographies, there is a shortage of funding to manage healthcare; in others, there is a need to bring down the cost of delivery. In both cases, how can technological intervention help?
There are several areas of healthcare where technological intervention is bringing down costs. Here are some examples:
- Transcribing and maintaining electronic health records
- Managing clinical data management
- Scanning, storing, tagging and retrieving medical document
- Managing health care billing, compensation payments and medical expense claims
- Staffing health care operations
Healthcare providers can streamline all of these for higher efficiencies using technology. It is especially critical to manage these back offices process efficiently in a public system. They can spell the difference between citizens having faith and confidence in the public healthcare system and supporting governments or distrusting administrations and therefore voting them out of office.
The preferred path to delivering public healthcare services today is using business processes as a service (BPaaS). BPaaS is repackaged and reordered outsourcing, BPO and shared services; it allows customers to pass along the day-to-day operations costs to the service provider and leverage cloud innovation in the quest for higher yields and efficiencies.
In other words, BPaaS is BPO on steroids. It can liberate government health agencies and health payers from redundant back office processes and instead allow them to opt for standardized, repeatable, scalable, cloud-based, pay-per-use BPaaS solutions.
In Spain, as an example, the healthcare system links patient data to diverse healthcare outlets, BPaaS optimizes resources based on health maps and links healthcare resources to the population served. These systems:
- Reduce clerical paper work to a minimum
- Set up appointments quickly
- Treat people accurately
- Avoid unnecessary tests,
- Make costs and payments transparent
- Make relevant insurance information available
- Provide feedback to the authorities.
The outcome not only reduces the cost of services but also gives citizens more control over their healthcare decisions.
BPaaS offers public healthcare providers the opportunity to access industrialized and standardized tools, processes, platform software and technology without major upfront investments in a pay-per-use model.
However, there are questions around BPaaS as the best model for the delivery of public healthcare. The chief apprehension is patient data confidentiality and security since BPaaS is rooted in a cloud environment. However, an increasing number of customers are demanding this kind of security as part of the solution and not a layer to be slapped on at a point in the future. This is giving way to solutions that are more dependable.
If there is one thing about cloud-based solutions such as BPaaS, it is that the provider largely reinvents the services, tools and infrastructure. Over a period of time security, too, will face reinvention until the mantra “It’s shared and it’s secure” becomes the motto.
In the meanwhile, consider multi-tenancy as an inherent strength rather than a weakness of BPaaS. Multi-tenancy brings additional scrutiny, demanding customers set higher standards. And the essential third-party security reviews and audits become cheaper because everyone is sharing costs.
What the public healthcare application of BPaaS tells us is that it is not only an SMB-related phenomenon that many believe it to be. In fact, societies can use it to address large-scale challenges they face.
So how do you think bpaas can be a boon to health systems in your geography?
 The Commonwealth Fund, Issues in International Health Policy, May 2012