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BPO Journal

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Striking a Balance

It seems that the last few years have seen significant growth in the outsourcing of document management and/ or imaging services. A report from the Palo Alto, Calif.-based research firm Frost & Sullivan, titled "U.S. Electronic Document Management Systems for Healthcare," backs up this point, and predicts that the U.S. market for electronic document management systems will top $209 million by 2008. The demand for document processing services seems to be driven by requirements of regulatory compliance, workflow optimization and productivity, and improved customer service. Some examples include:

  • The transitioning of hardcopy documents - patient admittance forms, insurance claims and Medicaid case files - to web-based archives in healthcare organizations allowing continual accessibility to critical information.
  • The capture and maintenance of unique documents - such as blueprints or research notes – in electronic databases of manufacturing and energy companies to respond to construction bids, preserve R&D findings and accelerate product time-to-market.
  • The digitization and archival of business-critical documents by banking and insurance firms to speed accessibility toward meeting government regulations and court-ordered production schedules.
  • Provision of higher-quality images that open quickly with either dial-up or broadband Internet connections, and therefore, allow effective displays of products on the Web.

This is also one area of outsourcing that is largely done onshore to meet varying retention requirements and achieve competitive advantage. One India-based service provider I spoke with, mentioned that the client, an insurance firm, employed onshore digitization services and digital copies of the claims (and that too, with strategic, competitive information such as renewal dates suppressed) were transferred to the Indian provider for processing.

This represents an area where onshore digitization feeds into offshore processing, thereby reducing the total cost of ownership of the business process. The onshore element also introduces a safeguard into the process. As security of outsourced transactions emerges as an important area of concern, much interest and early practice is under way to combine the security of an onshore information and document guardian, in combination with the cost advantages of offshore processing.

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