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Medical heroes in HIM: Not your ordinary doctors and nurses

(Manila, Philippines, September 5, 2013) — A busy hospital reflects the fast-paced life of doctors, nurses and medical staff, in roles that require them to treat patient after patient and save lives. Not known to many, the same principles of patient care are done in health information management (HIM) facilities across the country.

HIM staff, however, are behind orderly desks and are on-call for patients from different parts of the world. HIM is the biggest sector of the information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) industry. Last year, it employed 45,000 Filipinos, or an 80% increase in the workforce. A healthy career in HIM is nurtured by a combination of Filipinos’ excellent skill set and prized traits of hospitality and care.

Nurse in IT-BPM industry

Ronald Beltran, a utilization review nurse at MediCall, got a desperate call from a patient who was “in so much pain,” and who admitted to have already considered taking her life. Beltran’s immediate intuition was to fix the complications of the patient’s account, speeding the process for her scheduled procedure. He also referred her for case management to ensure patient safety. This act earned him a nomination for the Best Practices Award of the Utilization Review Accreditation Commission (URAC).

A nursing graduate, Beltran passed the licensure exam in 2007. After two years, he passed the US licensure exam, making possible a clinical career outside the usual hospital setting. Before joining MediCall, a specialized clinical services provider, Beltran served as nurse to indigent patients in various hospitals and specialty clinics. This experience ingrained compassion in him and sealed his dream of being a full-fledged nurse.

“I’ve been working for over two years now. Since then, the HIM sector in the country has grown. There are better tools and systems available everywhere. There is also a growing number of talents and advances in research,” said Beltran.

HIM professionals like Beltran are as highly adept as any other medical professional. “We communicate in the same jargon as healthcare professionals do. We ensure each treatment plan is medically necessary, safe for patients, and given in a timely manner by adhering only to evidence-based medicine and certain gold standards of practice,” he said.

Being a nurse in the IT-BPM industry, Beltran serves his patients with global competency. “Companies in this industry open opportunities for exponential career growth and skill development,” he explained, “We can showcase our medical capacities without having to leave the country or our own families.”

A mandate to save lives

Because time is of utmost importance in this demanding workplace, every HIM professional must develop “values of patience, tenacity, assertiveness and the skill of multi-tasking and prioritization,” said Kay Bermundo, Senior Team Lead-Case Coordinator at R365p Inc., a teleradiology company. Like Beltran, Bermundo works with physicians, nurses, technologists, and other healthcare professionals from different parts of the world.

R365p functions like an offshore annex of a hospital’s radiology department that offers professional teleradiology services such as reading and reporting diagnostic images like CT scans and X-ray studies.

After graduating with a nursing degree, Bermundo pursued a contact center job dealing with inbound customer service for a telecom account. To date, she has been in the HIM industry for five years. In her first few years, she found difficulty explaining her job to her parents and peers. “There was still a notion that if you are a nurse, you deal with patients face to face and not through a computer,” she recalled.

“Always be the nurse or doctor in you,” said Beltran, who shares that even though they do not deal with patients in person, her HIM career still allows her to save lives. “Just like in an emergency department, the decisions we make in carefully triaging patients through their medical history and chief complaints can save lives. Radiology interpretations are urgently sent back to waiting doctors as these will be used as bases for any medical decision needed according to initial diagnosis given to patients,” she said.

Poised for greater heights

“Our job in the clinical documentation industry requires utmost accuracy. Any error on our part may cause incorrect medical decisions that can seriously affect patient outcome or denial of insurance benefits by patients and providers,” shared Myla Reyes, vice president for Philippine Operations of SPi Healthcare. SPi Healthcare is a business unit of SPi Global, the most recognized Philippine-based business process outsourcing (BPO) provider which offers voice and non-voice BPO services through its business units CRM Outsourcing, Content Solutions and Healthcare.

Reyes started in healthcare documentation in 1994 as a medical transcriptionist. “My background as a nurse helped facilitate my understanding of the job. I have undergone formal training to become a medical transcriptionist, the same with ICD-9 coding where I had formal training,” she said.

Through the course of her career in the HIM industry, Reyes became one of the founding members of the Medical Transcription Industry Association of the Philippines, Inc. (MTIAPI) in 2003 before it was renamed to Healthcare Information Management Outsourcing Association of the Philippines (HIMOAP) in 2010. Since its inception, health care has expanded into functions including medical coding and billing services.

“Healthcare is a very promising industry. As countries implement national reforms to support universal healthcare coverage, there will be more challenges in service delivery and management, and technology will play a crucial role,” she said.

“We are proud of the talent quality we currently have. As technology progresses, so do our skill sets because HIM practitioners need to stay on top of industry advancements. They have to know and understand all the new options and learn the best ways to incorporate them in the practice,” said Dr. Josefina Lauchangco, president of Healthcare Information Management Outsourcing Association of the Philippines (HIMOAP).

To enhance talent development and promote opportunities in the industry, HIMOAP is holding the 4th Healthcare Information Management Outsourcing Services Congress (HIMOSC) on November 12, 2013 at the Hotel InterContinental Manila.

Themed “Intensity 10: Propelling Healthcare Information Management to Exponential Growth,” HIMOSC will gather industry experts and stakeholders from government, academe, IT-BPM and shared services sectors to discuss and strategize the Philippines’ role in the global healthcare outsourcing arena.

Ronald Beltran

Ronald Beltran, a utilization review nurse at MediCall, serves patients from around the world as a nurse in the IT-BPM industry.

Kay Bermundo

“To know that despite being a world away, my job helps save lives,” shares Kay Bermundo, a senior team lead-case coordinator at R365p.

Myla Reyes

“My background as a nurse helped facilitate my understanding of the job. I have undergone formal training to become a medical transcriptionist, the same with ICD-9 coding where I had formal training,” says Myla Reyes, vice president for Philippine Operations of SPi Healthcare.

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.