Business process outsourcing in dentistry


The evolution of dental care and business processes has created new markets in the game. With efforts to improve the quality of care and reduce costs, the new trend of business process outsourcing has emerged. Originating from the medical fields, the BPO is carried out to contract research organizations and contract manufacturing organizations. With the advent of digital dentistry and use of creative marketing solutions such as social media and direct and digital marketing in dentistry, the new outsourcing industry is content writing and development, marketing planning and branding and communications.

What is business process outsourcing? Business process outsourcing began as markets started to expand and reach out globally. To cut costs and create efficiency, international brands started to outsource their supply chains to smaller and local firms. This trend extended to other areas of services gradually, thereby coining a new industry. BPO contracts out projects to third-party service providers, thereby reducing its resource and overhead requirements along with saving time and costs.

The concept of BPO in dentistry is not a new one. The most common example of such outsourcing is the fabrication of crowns, bridges and other dental prosthesis by dental clinics to dental laboratories. Now the same forms of services have extended to software, dental transcription, 3D printing, imaging technologies, serologies and other clinical research aspects.

The benefits are cost reduction, optimum performance and better outcomes for both patients as well as dental practices. Administrative concerns such as health plans and insurance coverage are well taken care of. A significant example showing how much BPO can improve dental systems is of MetLife. Prior to outsourcing, MetLife was able to process less than 80 percent of the claims within ten days of receiving. However, outsourcing has improved this turnaround by 95%, lowered costs, improved efficiency and reduced backlog.

Business Process as a Service BPaaS will grow to $7.12 billion by 2018. This network system is the integrated future of healthcare, where vendors, customers partners, employees, suppliers, pharmaceutical and other manufacturers will become interlinked, saving costs and improving performance.

It is interesting to note the potential within the Asian markets of this development in dentistry. The annual growth rate since 2005 in the global dentistry field has been as high as 4.5% per annum, while the Asian market alone showing growth rates of 10% per annum. The Asian markets also hold the benefit of time difference which means that they are able to operate and offer services in time for western market.

The question rises, why would health sector want to extend itself out in this manner? The reasons are the new demands placed on the systems by its key stakeholders, the patients. Patients and business analysts agree that future healthcare systems need to be patient and quality centric. This means that these systems should have strong coordination between patients and providers. The healthcare systems must become quicker and have real-time information and analytics to guide treatment decisions. Finally, outsourcing can help increase and improve working efficiency, thereby catering to larger population segments.

Business process outsourcing helps reduce business process lag time, improve operational reporting, optimize operational efficiency, enhance focus on patient care, provide quicker response and adaptation to new medical technological advances and optimize treatment opportunities. Other benefits include improved service level performance, reduced month end closing time, minimize operational costs and improve service level performance and shorten cycle times.

Pakistan with its strong resource pool of allied health professionals can create an industry on these platforms. With integration of IT resource pools, another abundant resource, business process outsourcing can become a valuable source of foreign exchange and growth contributor to Pakistan’s economy.

April 2, 2014

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Dental is part of the Medical News Group of publications which in 1968 became the pioneer of medical journalism in Pakistan. Medical News is the only periodical in Pakistan which has 3 simultaneous editions from Karachi, Islamabad and online.

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