As my book was being released, I received the following link about tech jobs in Massachusetts being sent to India. The news: 100 IT Jobs Going to India Today.
Follow it to read about the Massachusetts company, Partners Healthcare, the parent company to some of the nation’s very best hospitals. I have also inserted at the bottom of this post an excerpt from Billions Lost: The American Tech Crisis and The Road Map to Change, Chapter 4, “Captivating Companies,” Section “Beyond Tech…Foreign Labor Affects U.S. Healthcare.” This excerpt will provide clarity around the potential risks associated with sending American healthcare-related IT jobs offshore.
As I have detailed in my book, the practice of sending IT jobs offshore occurs every day, in every industry, across our great nation. Technology jobs are being sent offshore to “save money.” When jobs are sent offshore, saving money is not a guarantee, but let me tell you what is:
1. Diminished Quality:
Foreign workers who have no understanding of American insurance codes and procedures will be responsible for providing the material needed to track diseases, maintain patient healthcare records, and affect reimbursements. The material compiled by the American workers, soon to be displaced by India personnel, is used by service providers and become part of a patient’s medical record. Quality suffers when foreign workers in a foreign land who are unfamiliar with process, language, and protocol replace experienced, American professionals.
2. Diminished Worker’s Rights:
Every IT worker being laid-off from a steady tech job in the U.S. due to offshoring will suffer anxiety, stress, and potentially financial hardship. More importantly, their family will be strained as that IT worker looks for new employment, typically in an industry outside of the IT field, as the U.S. technology field for American tech labor is shrinking.
The silver lining to the Partner’s layoff is the fact that these layoffs are taking place in Massachusetts, one U.S. state where the local economy is thriving, and there is a strong chance that these displaced tech workers will be able to find new work outside of the technology profession. However, had this layoff occurred in the neighboring states of Rhode Island or Connecticut, the future would not look quite as promising for laid-off workers to find new positions. With those state economies the worst in the nation, anyone being laid-off in Connecticut or Rhode Island has a nearly impossible task of finding new employment without relocating to another part of the U.S. When these types of layoffs occur in locations where the economy is not thriving, the job loss is devastating and permanent to the IT worker, their family, and their community. Workers’ Rights Advocate and Attorney Sara Blackwell is a resource for families in this situation.
3. The Economy Suffers:
With every IT job that is offshored, our country, our economy, and our children are put at risk. Our country loses a wage earner, loses the taxes that wage earner contributed, incurs additional debt to pay that laid-off worker unemployment benefits, loses the “multiplier” effect for every purchase that worker makes on a daily basis. The negative economic effect of sending IT jobs offshore is HUGE for the local economy and more importantly, for our national economy. Our country loses the knowledge that the IT worker has, the efficiency, and the quality. Most importantly, our country loses the opportunity to innovate, push forward, and reduce costs by any other measure related to this job loss.
4. Innovation is Hampered:
I would argue that if the executives at Partners, or the U.S. health industry as a whole, were pressed into innovation rather than offshoring, Partners would be making more investments in an AI (artificial intelligence) solution for this function, which would create opportunity for more and other kinds of technology-related employment, would improve quality, and could potentially improve clinical outcomes and productivity. By creating an “easy” excuse to send our tech jobs offshore rather than innovate and improve within our own shores, we perpetuate the downward spiral of tech jobs in the U.S.
5. The Future of America’s Youth is Impaired:
Our children are at risk every time an IT job is offshored for two simple but completely disparate reasons. First, when children see their parents or grandparents laid-off, they typically do not follow in their footsteps. Every time a U.S. tech worker is laid-off, the cause for our nation’s youth to shy away from STEM education and career aspirations is affirmed. Second, when IT workers, their knowledge, and their ability are sacrificed, the healthcare system is impacted and in addition to a country with trillions in debt, we will leave our children with second-class healthcare dependent on foreign labor forces to keep them alive and well both in and out of our country’s hospitals.
TO IMPROVE ALL THINGS AMERICAN, WE MUST STOP THE EXODUS OF TECHNOLOGY AND TECHNOLOGY WORKERS OUT OF THE U.S.
To learn more, read Billions Lost, The American Tech Crisis and The Road Map to Change. Here is the relevant excerpt:
Book Excerpt, Billions Lost, Author Hilarie T. Gamm, Copyright protected
Beyond Tech … Foreign Labor Affects U.S. Healthcare
The impact of sending technology and technology jobs overseas doesn’t just hit giant tech companies or the manufacturing industry, it affects our personal lives and daily living, and really hits closer to home.
Health insurers cannot claim to “export” a product like automotive manufacturers did. When the automakers made the argument to manufacture offshore, at least they could make the case that they were selling their products overseas, but American health insurance is sold to Americans in America, so to send those jobs offshore is simply robbing the U.S. of jobs, and the associated employee tax and benefit contributions to reduce costs.
In a 60 Minutes segment on H-1B visas, which aired in March 2017, an impassioned IT manager from the University of California Medical Center was interviewed when the state reported that they would save $30 million in IT costs by outsourcing tech labor and laying off California-based workers. As that manager so aptly remarked in the interview, how are folks halfway across the globe going to have the same level of empathy, urgency, and understanding for the health records and medical data needed to care for sick children lying in a hospital bed?
Let’s examine the type of workers we usually find in a hospital; then think about the new picture that will soon be presented in your mind. When you visit a typical hospital, it is usually staffed by physicians, nurses, pharmacists, pharmacy techs, other medical personnel, administration, and a billing department. However, did you know that most hospitals use offshore outsourcing in their billing departments and for their other IT purposes?
These outsourcing services can be for a number of things from storing their data more efficiently to helping complete ICD-10 forms. The abbreviation of ICD stands for International Classification of Diseases. The purpose of this material is to help track diseases on health care records and other trends relating to such disease. This platform is used by everyone including hospitals, government agencies, and even your health insurance provider. The ICD-10 also helps companies reimburse others after certain healthcare procedures or claims.
Here’s how this system relates to offshoring jobs overseas. The ICD-10 currently has over 87,000 codes whereas its predecessor ICD-9, had about 68,000. Because one individual cannot remember all of this information, the need arises within companies to hire multiple individuals to help identify these codes. The ICD-10 not only deals with the monetary benefits of insurance, but it also provides accuracy for the services provided by physicians and other healthcare staff.
This “rulebook” creates a way to evaluate the actual services rendered to the individual as well as tracking what services the patient receives, and finally, the outcome of those services. If the hospital billing department is understaffed and in need of extra help, but doesn’t want to hire extra staff, an employee based offshore can be hired and revenue will increase while overhead decreases.
Here’s an example: Let’s say an offshore worker based in outside the U.S. has the skill set in terms of reading the previous ICD version and is also updated on the new version, and one of our hospitals is willing to hire him for a job over here at below the market rate. Compare that scenario to an American worker, who wants a stable nine-to-five job and expects to get paid fairly for his work. Both workers are qualified, but who do you think will get the job? Most big companies and hospitals are going to hire whoever will work for less.
It isn’t a matter of discrimination, but rather, the nature of business and the need to minimize expenses while maximizing profits. With that in mind, we must remember this process not only plays an important role to our economy, but it also exposes certain privacies that we take for granted.
Consider this: you call your health care provider to inquire about a specific surgery you plan to have, and after your surgery is approved by your health insurer, people on the opposite end of the globe perform the data entry of that information. Some hospitals even use offshore doctors to read everything from brain scans to interpreting our X-rays.
The American College of Radiology is skeptical of this practice and warns that if these overseas doctors can partake in our medical system, then they should be listed as staff at our American hospitals, and be held to even higher standards than their American counterparts. Most people will agree that if they need to have a lab test performed, they want to actually see the doctor who is reading the results and be consulted by him personally. If someone is 8,000 miles away, how do you know that person is actually a licensed medical professional? The short answer is: you don’t. For all you know it could be a twelve-year-old behind a keyboard looking up different medical criteria on Google or the British Medical Journal, putting his or her spin on your precious medical charts.