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Rising demand, talent pool to fuel 5-10% growth in healthcare BPO

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THE Philippine healthcare information management system (HIMS) industry, a subsector of the business-process outsourcing (BPO) segment, is seen to grow by 5-10 percent this year amid increasing demand and talent pool.

Healthcare Information Management Association of the Philippines (Himap) Vice President Vincent Remo shared this bullish outlook for the HIMS sector—which employs 147,000 full-time equivalent and has $3.1-billion revenues—in a virtual event on Tuesday.

In pandemic, Remo said that companies have been dealing with rising cost and margin pressures, making outsourcing a viable choice for them.

The rollout of Covid-19 vaccination programs also “means the volume of transactions will dramatically increase, and there will be a need for more workers in the HIMS sector,” he added.

Apart from demand, the Himap official said the industry growth will also be driven by the large pool of professionals in the medical field, including US-licensed nurses.

He noted that some 42,000 from medical and allied courses are graduating yearly in the country.

“Lately, the services offered from the Philippines have also expanded to cover higher value services, such as clinical research, analytics and life sciences,” Remo said.

The HIMS sector, which comprises over 10 percent of the BPO industry, provides services to companies processing medical billings, doing medical coding, case management, and all aspects of revenue cycle management; companies doing benefit management and fraud and abuse management; and pharmacy benefit management, among others.

“Beneath all of these services is technology, from hospital systems, intelligent AI assistance, data analytics and robotic process automation. There are even new services and solutions being created or customized for every new engagement,” Remo said.

Remo said that the Philippines is also attractive for investors in the HIMS industry given its resilience and adaptability amid the pandemic.

“During the pandemic in 2020, companies providing healthcare information management services in the Philippines were able to create the shift to working-from-home, a testimony to the reliability of the infrastructure for flexible working model,” he explained.

Investors, the Himap official said, are also looking into areas outside the capital region to expand operations considering the availability of talent, infrastructure and ease of doing business.

In addition, Remo cited the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act, which provides tax perks to investors.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, in the same event, confirmed that HIMS and the information technology-business process management (IT-BPM) sectors are both included in the investment priorities plan under CREATE, making them eligible for tax perks.

Some perks include availment of income tax holidays of four to seven years, depending on the level of technology and location of the project, Lopez said. This will then be followed by 10 years of enhanced deductions or 5-percent special corporate income tax for export-oriented firms.

“Presently, IT-BPM remains as one of the top industry investments in the Philippines by US firms, with HIMS as one of the fastest-growing sub-sectors achieving a double-digit growth despite the pandemic,” Lopez said.

This year, the majority or 87 percent of the IT-BPM firms expect to book 5-percent to 15-percent growth while 13-percent anticipate flat growth, according to a survey by the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines.

Employment in the IT-BPM industry grew by 1.8 percent to 1.32 million while revenues rose by 1.4 percent to $26.7 billion last year.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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