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Tip of the week: Know when to outsource

Managed Care Weekly Advisor, May 23, 2007

Outsourcing of diagnostic and clinical services in hospitals is not only on the rise, it's here to stay; a recent survey of 266 hospital CEOs shows that 78% outsource some patient care services and 83% anticipate a growth in outsourcing over the next two to three years. Here are some ways to see if outsourcing is the right fit.

  1. Reimbursement matters. Reimbursement is a major factor driving the trend, so services that generate the slimmest profit margin for hospitals are often considered good prospects for outsourcing.

  2. Search for specialists. Patient care services also are commonly outsourced when they require specialized knowledge or equipment, such as the ability to understand staffing ratios, billing issues and marketing to physicians and payers..

  3. Consider new services. Hospitals look to outsourcing for new patient service lines that might require a large capital outlay and, conversely, for well established services for which the hospital industry has substantial experience using third parties.

  4. Consider existing services. According to the 2006 Hospital Outsourcing Trends in Clinical Services Survey, the most commonly outsourced patient care services include dialysis (31%) sleep disorders (24%) diagnostic imaging (23%) laboratory services (20%) and physical therapy (17%)