The True Cost Of Manual Data Entry in Healthcare
An error in processing information can be a nightmare for organizations. Several studies have estimated that the cost of fixing an error is many times the cost of prevention. In other words, extra cost incurred in preventing the error works out cheaper than making the error and then trying to fix it. Whether this is organizational karma or otherwise, the mistake keeps getting made again and again. The more critical the process, the greater the cost of the error?
It is not that organizations make errors knowingly. Obviously not. It is nobody’s case to contend that errors are wilfully made.
So, why do errors happen?
The simple answer is – because of manual processing. Human beings are the smartest beings on the planet. Human intelligence has brought us far ahead of other species to a point where we stand alone. In fact, human intelligence has brought us so far ahead that thanks to the tools we have created, self-annihilation is a real possibility.
Though man has consistently made efforts at automating manual processes, there are many beyond the scope of automation where human intelligence becomes essential. While Artificial Intelligence (AI) based applications are being developed, they too, are a mirror of human intelligence, and not an intelligence beyond.
An automated process can keep doing the same thing, exactly as the one before and the millions before, without fail. It does not think, has no need to aspire for a better life, does not wonder what would happen if it were to do something slightly differently, does not get tired and is not angling for a bonus for processing more transactions. While a human processor might.
Human intelligence, then, comes in the way of manual processes being error free. Of course, we must not forget that humans perhaps are assigned the more difficult parts of processing, the parts that cannot be automated. While elimination of errors will always be the goal, it should also be recognized that that might be a utopian ideal. Of course, we need to take the steps to get closer and closer to that ideal.
Cost of manual healthcare data entry
In a sensitive field like healthcare, data entry errors can be prohibitively expensive.
Time is often of the essence in the treatment of serious and critical conditions. Medical practitioners are trained to take on-the-spot decisions on the basis of information that is available to them at the point of treatment, like in an Operation Theatre (OT).
While many professions are aware of the GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out) concept, it takes a sinister turn in the case of healthcare, as lives depend on the data that is going in. The information could be based on tests and physical examinations and would also capture past treatment. If this information is incorrect, the diagnosis is bound to be incorrect. What chance does the treatment have based on a faulty diagnosis based on incorrect data?
Clearly the cost arising out of incorrect treatment is the most significant cost. There are other costs as well, that could be similar to the costs faced by many other industries. For example, date entry takes time away from patient care, the reason for the existence of healthcare systems. Errors could originate also because people not qualified for data entry jobs are having to do it. Essentially, higher costs with lower productivity from the data entry process.
Need for data entry
What exactly does healthcare data entry entail?
The healthcare system generates a huge amount of data. Hospitals, medical centers and medical practitioners who interact with seekers of medical care, need to maintain records regarding the condition of the seeker, treatment advised and progress. There would also be information about diagnostic and other procedures the patient has undergone. Related data could include the billing history and insurance information, at the minimum.
While it may still not be exhaustive, this list might provide an overview of the size, variety and complexity of the task:
- Hospital records
- Prescription history
- Diagnostic and lab tests
- Radiological reports, films, files
- Surgical treatment records
- Medication records
- Charting of key parameters
- Account and billing details
- Medical insurance claim forms
- Demographics entries
- Patient interaction records
The data entry would need to be done in various formats like text, numeric, handwritten documents, printed files from other systems, images, etc. To make it even more complex, many of these pieces of information could be sitting inside different systems. Some of them might be able to talk to others, some not.
Outsourcing – the solution for Healthcare Data Entry
But an organization has to operate and deliver the [products and services it was meant to deliver. A hospital cannot stop treating patients because the billing needs to be done on a software. A doctor cannot stop consulting with patients because the medical stores cannot understand her handwritten prescription. They need to continue their mission while trying to handle the related items, some of an administrative nature, in the best manner possible.
One of the best solutions that has presented itself is the emergence of data entry outsourcing as a service. BPO companies, like oWorkers, have been doing data entry for clients for many years. They have done work for clients in different industries enabling them to gain an understanding of the industry and an appreciation of what it takes to succeed in the process. One such industry is healthcare, which can now leverage the resources of these providers and go back to focusing on the activity they were trained for, which is healthcare.
What can healthcare providers expect from a BPO company that is providing healthcare data entry services to them?
Quality and Accuracy
This is really non-negotiable. We have already seen the costs that are associated with poor quality and accuracy. This continues to be the greatest challenge and perhaps is the one area outsourcers can expect significant improvement. The discipline of ‘process management’ uses the term ‘fatal error’ to refer to a very serious error. Techopedia defines it as “an error that causes a program to terminate without any warning or saving its state. A fatal error, upon occurring, aborts the application currently running, and may cause the user to lose any unsaved changes made in the program.”
In software and engineering the term is used to denote a serious error with a bad outcome, but in healthcare, the error could be fatal in the truest sense of the term. Lives are at stake.
With a track record of over eight years and an experienced management team, oWorkers has consistently met and exceeded client expectations in accuracy. Monitoring transactions, coaching agents who are making errors, providing feedback, are all parts of the normal processing that is done by oWorkers to deliver the highest standards of accuracy.
Turnaround Time/ Speed of Delivery
Though it eventually depends on client need and costs associated with speed, committed providers make it possible for the data to be available to the people who need it soon after it becomes available for data entry. They have great flexibility in their operations and are usually able to adapt their methods to suit those of the client. They are even able to operate from the client premises, if that becomes a key differentiator.
oWorkers runs 24×7 operations in all its three centers around the world. Every minute of the day, and night, is available and can be leveraged for furthering the objectives with which the outsourcing arrangement has been set up. The business being global, clients might even be able to take advantage of the time zone differences and find fully baked data in the database that has been processed while they were asleep.
As it is a commercial engagement you will be entering into, of course there will be a cost implication. However, it should be viewed as a replacement cost and not an additional cost. What this means is that it will be incurred in lieu of a cost that was being incurred elsewhere in the organization for doing the same work, which will now no longer be incurred. Right? It might even make the job of the Finance people easier by being able to more accurately define a budget for it.
We are not even including the savings that might accrue as a result of better decisions resulting from accurate healthcare data entry. Or the level of healthcare services improving when staff are not involved in activities like data entry.
oWorkers clients regularly cite savings of 80% when they outsource to oWorkers. The pricing mechanism is transparent. It includes a dollars per hour rate and a dollars per unit of output rate, along with committed service standards and SLAs. Clients can choose the one they believe will be beneficial for their business.
Cybersecurity is a growing concern in today’s world. Advancements in technology also put more powerful tools in the hands of mischief makers. While Artificial Intelligence (AI) is expected to provide many solutions to us, it can also be harnessed by cyber criminals to mount attacks on networks and data systems, one of the main objectives being to steal client and customer information.
Being GDPR compliant, maintaining data securely is a requirement for oWorkers. Requisite checks and balances have been put in place for both digital as well as physical security. With its ISO/IEC 27001 certification, oWorkers is committed to following best practices in technology.
The BPO business is also referred to as an ITES, or Information Technology Enables Services. This is because the business, in a way, has come into existence as a result of advances in digital technology. Leveraging appropriate technologies to advance one’s business interests, therefore, is a given. Notwithstanding, each industry has its own rhythms and its own unique applications. Some common ones used in healthcare being IDX, Medisoft, Hypersoft, Medic, NextGen, Lytec and Eclipse. The partner’s familiarity with applications will facilitate a smoother transition.
With its wide setoff partnerships with technology companies, oWorkers accesses and uses the latest technologies for client requirements and is not limited to a set of pre-defined technologies. oWorkers is also well positioned to offer business continuity to clients in the event the primary delivery site is affected on account of local issues, from any of the three global delivery locations it operates from.
Multi Lingual capability
The world is shrinking and businesses are becoming global. Businesses operate across countries, time zones and languages. The support engine of a business needs to be able to cater to a variety of languages in order to cover its geographical spread. The organization should not need to look for yet another vendor for each language.
When you outsource healthcare data entry to oWorkers, you get a provider with proficiency in 22 languages commonly spoken around the world, across the three delivery centers it operates from. Whether you are a local business or a global behemoth, oWorkers has the solutions for you.
Data entry is work that takes a toll on people, as it is very repetitive. From the organization’s perspective, this means needing to hire almost continuously to fill the gaps when people leave. Besides, since the work is repetitive and does not require too much by way of educational qualifications, the pay is low. So, the employer needs to have access to channels through which such hiring can be done.
oWorkers is a preferred employer in all the communities it works in. This gives us access to a steady stream of walk-in candidates interested in working for us, giving us choices whilst keeping our hiring costs low. Besides, we work on an employment model, not freelancing or contract like some of our competitors. While this places greater responsibility on us for development of staff and their careers, we are happy to do that as it also brings greater loyalty as well as flexibility in deployment.
While most large organizations work on projected budgets, it is not possible to be accurate beyond a point. All businesses go through unexpected and unplanned variations in volumes, true for healthcare data entry as well. This sometimes requires either hiring in a hurry or letting the opportunity slip by if one is not able to do it fast enough.
The hiring capability of oWorkers also provides us the leverage to be able to hire for peaks and troughs. We can hire an extra one hundred people within 48 hours, if required, reducing the burden on the client to carry staffing at peak volume levels through the year.
It goes without saying that the management should demonstrate their keenness and desire to take on the contract. There is no specific parameter or tool to look at for ascertaining this, but the ability to work together generally can be established during the pre-contract interactions. A business contract will only work if there is something in it for both parties.
oWorkers has a transparent process of delivery and pricing. We commit what we can do and do what we commit. Our leadership team will engage with you from the time you initiate the discussion and continue to oversee delivery.
oWorkers for your Healthcare Data Entry
oWorkers is a pure player, specialising in Data and Content services. It has been identified as one of the three best providers in the world in its area of specialization. Our leadership team comes with over twenty years of hands-on experience in the industry and are engaged on an ongoing basis with clients and the project teams.
In brief, oWorkers should be your partner of your choice.