Dictionary.com defines outsourcing as “a practice used by different companies to reduce costs by transferring portions of work to outside suppliers rather than completing it internally”. The term which has been generally associated with the automobile industry was popularized during the past decade by the computer or IT industry. But when it is the health industry in question, how does outsourcing work there? What is outsourced and how?
If you are thinking it’s the drug manufacturing that is outsourced, you are wrong. Nor is it the bookkeeping that is outsourced. What is outsourced is the patient himself or rather he chooses to have his treatment done offshore. The driving cause is the high cost of health care in his home country. Or in certain other cases, the long waits before he can get the needed treatment.
So, medical outsourcing or offshore medical which is also commonly known as medical tourism is the practice of seeking health care abroad. But, who provides these outsourcing services?
There are lots of offshore health care providers in the form of hospitals and clinics participating in this business. Some of them can be found on the other side of the border while others may be a few oceans across. Examples include those in India, Singapore, Thailand, Mexico, Turkey, Panama, Costa Rica, Brazil, Argentina, Belgium, and so on. Some of them give excellent service – even superior to what you can get at home using the latest technology and by world-renowned surgeons – while others may not be as great. To show their commitment towards top quality, many providers also have international accreditations like JCI, JACHO, ISO, etc. Some have strategic alliances with well-known US health care providers like Cleveland Clinic, Harvard Medical International and Johns Hopkins.
International health care providers are able to provide you with high quality treatment at an affordable cost mainly because of low labor cost, low administrative cost, low malpractice cost and low living cost in their country. That’s the same reason why IT companies started outsourcing.
Now the obvious question arises – how do you find the right provider for your needs? The answer is do research. There are lots of resources available – news, articles, blogs, forums, testimonials, etc. Many people find it useful to work with a health tourism facilitator or medical tourism facilitator like Healthbase (http://www.healthbase.com). They are specialized facilitators who carefully screen and partner with international healthcare providers that meet up to the high standards of patients from the US, the UK, Canada, etc. They also help patients with all the logistics involved in getting a surgery abroad.
There are a few other things that you will need to do for a successful experience in getting your surgery overseas. Getting into the details of all of them is beyond the scope of this article. Here are some of them: doing a thorough research on the surgery in question to establish your suitability for it as well as for medical tourism, getting to learn about your medical travel destination, arranging all your medical records and sending them to the international hospital, securing passport and visa, booking tickets, and more. You may want to start here: http://www.healthbase.com/resources/medical-tourism/medical-tourism-information.
Earlier, people would go abroad mostly for elective cosmetic procedures which were not covered by insurances. Today, people outsource their orthopedic procedures as well as cardiac surgeries as well as organ transplants. It’s not just individuals who are interested in this trend to save money. Medical outsourcing has also received attention from health insurance companies who have started offering overseas treatment plans to expand their customer base, and from employers who have included it as a benefit to their employees.
At the time of writing this article, neither Merriam Webster nor Dictionary.com had an entry for “medical outsourcing”. But given the speed with which the trend is spreading, pretty soon they will have to update their dictionaries.