Talent Tuesday: Shortages Fuel Surge in Hospital Outsourcing Partnerships

The hospital outsourcing market size is projected to reach USD 702 billion by 2027 and expected to expand at a CAGR of 11.5 % from 2022 to 2026.

Managers from 716 inpatient organizations revealed the unrelenting incapacity to recruit qualified clinicians and procure critical resources and are choosing to deflect the solution delivery concerns to outsourcing vendors.

According to the latest survey on healthcare outsourcing conducted by Black Book Research (@blackbookpolls), 92% of hospital leaders have intensified their strategic planning on whether to work with more third-party vendors for cost-efficiencies in both clinical and nonclinical functions and allowing hospitals to focus on priorities of improving patient access and implementing digital technologies. Over three thousand outsourcing services clients participated in the annual assessment of 20 outsourced and managed services categories.

“Global managed services firms are creating a niche by specifically focusing on healthcare clients only,” said Doug Brown, President of Black Book Research. “More leading vendors have recognized the need to bundle services that are only relevant to hospitals and inpatient groups such as IT, cybersecurity, clinical services, analytics and technical support.”

The opportunities to reduce clinical costs in past decades was mainly limited to anesthesia and emergency medicine. “In 2021, hospitals have a cost structure that is not sustainable, and some organizations are making the decision to actually enhance clinical product lines by outsourcing to power up volumes and improve health consumer satisfaction,” said Brown.

Two of the most popular areas that hospitals are currently vetting is in the diagnostic imaging service lines (teleradiology and medical imaging equipment) as many hospitals lack the capital funds necessary to invest in new and replacement advanced imaging centers.

Outsourcing hospital processes to expert partners have become a winning strategy for many organizations. In every outsourced services category surveyed, clients reported service levels had exceeded expectations in over 85% of all hospitals polled in CY 2021 to date. Less than 7% of clients reported extreme dissatisfaction in meeting expectations that forced 2020 contract terminations.

“Outsourcing in the healthcare industry doesn’t get the same bad rap other sectors experience such as banking, insurance, tech and call centers, where negative stereotypes associated with offshoring and/or full-function outsourcing were largely misinformed,” said Brown. “In hospitals, there is a developed understanding of the broad spectrum of onsite clinical services outsourcing options and how to manage vendors.”

“As hospitals look for ways to find adequate staff and reduce costs, particularly implementing value-based care programs, outsourcing is a valid strategy to achieve a financially healthier organization. However, caution should be given with the common pitfalls in healthcare when vetting or considering outsourcing,” said Brown.

A very small number of surveyed executives (barely 2% of respondents) consider outsourcing an unthinkable option due to the anticipated reaction both internally and externally from staff, physicians and the community it serves, unchanged from a similar poll in Q1 2020.

“For hospitals in financial danger with margin pressures placing the entire hospital workforce at risk, positively attacking margin by outsourcing one or more areas can actually save jobs in other core departments,” said Brown.

Also, outsourcing agreements in healthcare provider organizations can be structured so they do not affect existing staff or may stipulate the retention of existing staff into the incoming outsourcing entity.

A supplemental poll of 302 vendor executives last month revealed an average three-fold increase in request for outsourcing proposals since Q1 2019 among select clinical functions.

Hospitals are doing a much better job in assessing the need for outsourcing and selecting appropriate outsourcing vendors, but many executives still fail at managing the outsourcing relationship through key clinical, financial and operational performance indicators.

“It is a matter of finding the right company to partner with,” said Brown. “Through research, peer recommendations and due diligence on the firms being considered, including the vendor’s history of partnerships with other hospitals.”

3,156 client users of hospital outsourcing responded on customer satisfaction and experience in several functional areas. The top-ranked outsourcing vendors in 2021 included:

  • Anesthesia Department – North American Partners In Anesthesia (NAPA)
  • Biomedical & Clinical Engineering – Edge Biomedical
  • Coding, CDI & CAC (Hospitals) – Guidehouse
  • Coding, CDI & CAC (Physicians) – Corrohealth
  • Credentialing & Privileging – Symplr/Tractmanager
  • Cybersecurity – Fortified Health Security
  • Database Support & Analytics – Health Catalyst
  • Data Centers & Infrastructure – CTG
  • Emergency Department – Envision
  • ERP Support – PivotPoint Consulting
  • Facilities Management – Aramark
  • Hospitalists – Sound Physicians
  • Human Resources & Benefits Administration – Conduent
  • IT Tech Support – Cerner
  • Laboratory Support & RCM – Xifin
  • Medical Imaging Systembs – AGFA Health
  • Payroll – Paycor
  • Pharmacy Department – CPS (Comprehensive Pharmacy Services)
  • Physical Therapy & Rehab Services – Integra Rehab Solutions
  • Recruitment Process – Hireology
  • Revenue Cycle Management, End-To-End (Hospitals) – Ensemble Health Partners
  • Revenue Cycle Management, End-To-End (Physicians) – AthenaHealth RCM
  • Supply Chain & Pharma Distribution – Medline Industries
  • Teleradiology – Direct Radiology
  • Virtual Scribes/Transcription – Aquity Solutions

About Black Book
Black Book Market Research LLC, its founder, management and staff do not own or hold any financial interest in any of the outsourcing and managed services vendors covered and encompassed in the surveys it conducts. Black Book reports the results of the collected satisfaction and client experience rankings in publication and to media prior to vendor notification of rating results and does not solicit vendor participation fees, review fees, inclusion or briefing charges, and/or vendor collaboration as Black Book polls vendors’ clients.

In 2009, Black Book began polling the client experience of now over 800,000 healthcare software and services users. Black Book expanded its survey prowess and reputation of independent, unbiased crowd-sourced surveying to IT and health records professionals, physician practice administrators, nurses, financial leaders, executives and hospital information technology managers.

“The Black Book of Outsourcing” (Wiley & Sons Publishers 2005, 2009) author and Black Book Research founder, Doug Brown, appeared on the business non-fiction bestseller lists of BusinessWeek, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and USA Today. It is available in seven languages worldwide and is listed as #70 in the 100 Top Books for Managers by International Business Editors Guild.

View Black Book vendor satisfaction rating methodology, auditing, resources, comprehensive research, and ranking data.