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Enhancing the Filipino potential in healthcare information management

Lauchangco shares insights on making it big in the fastest-growing IT-BPM sector

(Manila, Philippines, July 12, 2013) — Business has always been Dr. Penny Lauchangco’s passion. As a young student, however, she took a different route by taking up dentistry at the University of East Ramon Magsaysay Medical Center. This decision eventually led her to a path where she would be able to use her business acumen.

In her new role as president of the Healthcare Information Management Outsourcing Association of the Philippines (HIMOAP), Dr. Lauchangco now serves the fastest-growing sector in the Philippine information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) industry: healthcare information management (HIM).

In 2001, she joined the budding industry of medical transcription outsourcing. Medical transcription was then a relatively young industry, so finding competent employees adept in the skills required posed as a challenge. “There was a huge demand for medical transcriptionists at the time, but there was no formal training to equip them with the proper skills needed to deliver services,” says Lauchangco.

Ever the entrepreneur, Lauchangco saw the opportunity to train more people to bridge the gap between job requirements and available skills for the sector. She was tapped to set up and manage the American Academy of Medical Transcription (AAMT), a training center for medical transcription and other healthcare information management skills. Lauchangco is also one of the industry experts who developed the TESDA training courses for medical transcription and medical coding and billing.

Among the sectors in the Philippine IT-BPM industry, HIM posted the highest growth rate in employment in 2012, expanding its workforce by 80 percent. Currently, there are about 45,000 Filipinos working in the healthcare outsourcing sector. “We have a competitive edge because of our huge supply of nursing graduates with excellent English-speaking skills,” says Lauchangco. “This is an industry with a lot of potential and emerging opportunities. We just need the right people to get out there and claim it.”

While graduates of nursing and medical-allied courses are highly encouraged to build a career in the HIM sector, Lauchangco clarifies that graduates of nonmedical courses such as IT, business, and communication also have a place in the sector.

Initially offering careers in medical transcription, the HIM industry has expanded rapidly and is now providing employment in an array of healthcare IT-BPM services, including clinical data management, telemedicine, revenue cycle management, pharmacy benefits management, electronic medical records, medical claims recovery, utilization review, patient education, insurance processing, and quality assurance.

With targeted employment of 100,000 Filipinos working for the HIM sector by 2016, Lauchangco says that there is a large demand for talent. “The HIM industry is the fastest-growing sector and employment opportunities will always be available. What we need to do is to equip our trainable talent pool and retool to address the specific requirements of healthcare IT-BPM. We need to continue developing necessary training programs and curricula. It is imperative that we enable our training centers to offer courses in healthcare information management and provide them with qualified trainers,” she says.

According to Lauchangco, there is a need to upgrade the skills of those who are already in the industry. “Continuing education is necessary in a dynamic industry such as this. New legislation, policies and regulations in health care keep this fast-paced industry at the forefront of new technology,” she adds.

To meet this demand, HIMOAP is working closely with government organizations such as the Department of Science and Technology’s Information and Communications Technology Office (DOST-ICTO). HIMOAP and DOST-ICTO will jointly implement the Medical Coding and Billing Training and Certification Project to train scholars from the local HIM sector and further enhance their skills in established HIM-related certification procedures, medical coding concepts, principles, and skills. Trainees will likewise undergo the Certified Professional Coders Certification Exam by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), the largest medical coding training and certification association for medical coders and medical coding jobs in the United States.

Lauchango provides some insights on how to make it in HIM:

  1. Preparation is key. In any industry, a potential talent should know what he or she is getting into and be prepared for it. “If you really want to be a part of this industry, you have to be prepared for the challenges of working for overseas clients and you have to be ready to work hard,” she says.
  2. Enhance your English and analytical skills. Lauchangco explains that aside from understanding medical terminology, potential HIM professionals should also possess above-average English skills. “Most clients in the HIM sector are based in the US and other countries so HIM professionals should be able to communicate with them well,” she says.
  3. Don’t be afraid to explore. “Research, research, and research. Look for organizations that suit you without hopping from one company to next,” says Lauchangco. “There are a lot of emerging opportunities out there.”

    Lauchangco suggests that it also helps to ask around to get more information about a company. If a potential talent feels that he or she belongs to a certain organization, that talent will be inspired to build a career in that company. And it will translate to high output and performance.

  4. Learning about and understanding the field are an absolute must. “HIM practitioners need to stay on top of technological advancements. Know and understand all the new options and how to incorporate them in the practice,” says Lauchangco.

With a host of developments in the HIM sector, Lauchangco shuttles from one meeting to another to discuss plans with investors, members of the academe, government, and various industry stakeholders. “The HIM industry is poised for dramatic growth. There is much room for growth and capability for high-value complex services,” says Lauchangco. “Planning to be an HIM professional? Don’t be afraid to explore. Make your move.”

About the Healthcare Information Management Outsourcing Association of the Philippines (HIMOAP)
The Healthcare Information Management Outsourcing Association of the Philippines (HIMOAP), formerly known as the Medical Transcription Industry Association of the Philippines, Inc. (MTIAPI), is a non-stock, non-profit industry organization recognized by the Philippine government and BPO industry. The association was first registered as MTIAPI with the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission on October 16, 2003 and renamed as HIMOAP in August 2010.

HIMOAP prides itself in bringing together the Philippines’ most distinguished and active players in the healthcare outsourcing industry towards a common endeavor. The association serves the needs of the HIM service organizations, HIM education and training centers and vendors as it promotes the Philippines as the destination of choice for quality healthcare information management outsourcing services.

About the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP)
The Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) is the enabling association for the information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) industry in the Philippines. IBPAP serves as the one-stop information and advocacy gateway for the industry. With approximately 300 industry and support-industry members, including five associations—the Animation Council of the Philippines, Inc., Contact Center Association of the Philippines, Game Developers Association of the Philippines, Healthcare Information Management Outsourcing Association of the Philippines, and Philippine Software Industry Association—IBPAP plays a pivotal role in sustaining rapid growth of the IT-BPM by working to ensure an enduring supply of high-quality labor, supporting service innovation, and providing country visibility.

IBPAP assists investors in setting up operations easily and quickly in the Philippines. Relevant research, introductions to key government and industry officials, and a series of briefings at each step of the investment process ensure a seamless development process. On-going support is provided through a wide variety of initiatives, including programs for HR development, business development, and on-going knowledge sharing and networking opportunities.