Outsourceability : an example from the US doctor’s office

Since the recession-outsourcing and outsourceability- a taboo topic is now being discussed much more openly in America. Most people agree that if your job can be outsourced to a cheaper location or to technology – it will be outsourced. Thus young people, mid and late career folks are all thinking again about outsourcing and its impact on their professions. So here is an example from the doctor's office for  the patient facing folks. We exclude back office tasks like medical transcription now outsourced to technology etc.Here is how an annual  visit to the ophthalmologist works out:

  • The appointment is taken over the phone and the receptionist also seems to be a nurse  or at least someone experienced enough to categorize and schedule the patient. This task is pretty contextual, does require at least an associate degree and an understanding of the medical procedures  that occur in that office. Is key to getting the patient into the practice and thus corresponds to a front-line sales /service role. There is probably a small segment of tech savvy patients who can fix their appointment online and bye pass the receptionist/nurse. These tech adopters will rise as will the clarity of insurance payments so the job at the reception  desk will get increasingly outsourced to technology.
  • The patient arrives and a series of optometrists who are both skilled and qualified go through a bunch of measurements. Your eye and the machine both are present and someone needs to manage the test and the patient. Both skill and physical presence of the optometrist/technician is essential. Naturally the pay and skills of the optometerist/technician is higher than that of the receptionist/nurse and this is a job that is difficult to entirely outsource to technology or overseas.
  • The MD and specialist finally sees the patient for a few minutes along with all the piles of data that have been gathered. Technically it is possible to outsource routine un-complicated patients records and review to a cheaper qualified ophthalmologist . All the data gathered in the previous steps can and will be available digitally eventually and appropriate doctors at different locations (and costs) might be able to review test results and decide about the need for the actual consultation with the specialist.  In other words, even at the highest levels of medical skills outsourcing is possible and is being done for expensive skills like radiology.

Does this mean that only jobs that require a physical presence and contact (as the optometerist/technician) are the only jobs that are not outsourceable? Yes and these physical presence jobs include at the lower pay end food preparation and serving. At the high pay  end , it includes the surgeon who performs urgent surgery.  I say urgent because non-urgent surgery can be moved overseas at low cost to health insurers.

Just as a  doctor's office can have different outsourceability levels for the patient facing folks so goes for every other professional work context. Contact StratoServe.

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