I was browsing around the SDN forums the other day and came across a thread that quickly turned into the discussion of outsourcing. I was pretty interested in the topic, and came across an interesting article after doing some research. The article is two years old, but is a good read nonetheless.
I’ve always heard people say that outsourcing will never happen. This can’t be further from the truth. If you read the article, you’ll find that it is already happening. The reality is that residents and physicians don’t want to believe that it is happening as it imposes serious threats to their livelihood. If you dig further, you can find other stories as well.
The imaging charter was presented to the FDA and there was no objection from the FDA regarding conducting the review in India. This review resulted in cost and time savings for the sponsor, and demonstrates another avenue for US companies to reduce clinical trial expenses.
Radiology has been used as a test bed for outsourcing, primarily due to the digital nature of films and ease of transporting data quickly through network pipes to the other side of the world. There are now firms dedicated to reading films during “off peak” hours. They are often located in Australia or India, as this allows for our late-night films to be read by somebody who’s in the middle of their normal workday.
Of course this brings up concerns regarding accreditation and liability, but since the practice of outsourcing continues, the problems are most likely too minor to warrant any stop to sending films overseas. Despite some of these concerns, both sides of the fence honestly believe that outsourcing and telemedicine are the wave of the future. It simply increases productivity while decreases cost.
I’ve always said that medicine is simply business, and we’re beginning to see stronger evidence of that. With the exponential increase in technology advancements (via Moore’s Law), it’s only a matter of time until telemedicine becomes so cheap that it will be foolish for all hospitals not to adopt some form of it.
What does this mean for future doctors? I honestly don’t know. I do believe that some of the more technologically-advanced specialties such as radiology and even pathology will most likely become the ones that see mass outsourcing first. Outsourcing plain old patient care and physical exams probably won’t happen for awhile, but these types of specialties will have their own problems soon enough as more students favor lifestyle over brute force hours.
How do you feel about outsourcing? Will the ease of outsourcing have an effect on how you choose your specialty? Or, do you not feel that it’s something that you will have to worry about in your lifetime?