I recently visited The Pennsylvania State University to attend a Dedication in honor of my father, George T. Mahler, Jr., who, 11 years ago, was hit and killed by a car while on a business trip in Chicago. My mother donated his mineral collection to the Mining Engineering Department, so his exhibit rests in the hallway of one of the very buildings he frequented as a student in 1959/1960.
The night I arrived, I had dinner with an old roommate and a group of his friends, one of whom was working as a hospital physician in the outskirts of Philly.
After we discovered we both worked in healthcare, I gave him an overview of my company and explained the areas in which our outsourced physician services company benefits hospitals and healthcare facilities. What began as a light conversation, ended with him confessing that he was seriously considering opting out of the industry, all together. I had assumed, like many other physicians, his frustrations stemmed from healthcare reform. I assumed wrong.
He said he was upset with how his hospital was utilizing offshore physician outsourcing. While I was somewhat familiar with the concept, that was the first time it popped up in a conversation.
After researching the topic, I learned that there are pros and cons to offshore physician outsourcing or “dis-location,” as it is referenced in the “The New England Journal of Medicine.” Pros include “cost reduction for hospitals as well as improved quality or access to specialized care with regards to patient care, while some cons are that service providers operate under different laws, and because communication is done through computers, they’re basically anonymous people.”
Dr. Robert Wachter, in a “NEJM” article, said, “Four things seem certain: the outsourcing of healthcare will grow; it will challenge traditional arrangements between patients and both physicians and institutions; it will require rapid and thoughtful development of new ethical, legal, and quality standards; and it will be controversial.”
Controversial is right, at least in the case of the hospital physician I conversed with during dinner.