Legislators take aim at healthcare offshoring

The burgeoning -- and controversial -- movement in the U.S. to send patient data overseas may be nipped in the bud by federal and state legislators in the U.S., who have introduced a number of bills to regulate or even prohibit the practice.

Dear AuntMinnie Member,

The burgeoning -- and controversial -- movement in the U.S. to send patient data overseas may be nipped in the bud by federal and state legislators, who have introduced several bills that would regulate or even prohibit the practice. Should an offshoring ban be passed, it could drive a stake through the heart of the growing overseas teleradiology business.

According to an article by staff writer Tracie L. Thompson in our PACS Digital Community, the bills were introduced after an incident in which a Pakistani medical transcriptionist threatened to release confidential patient data over the Internet as part of a payment dispute with a medical billing contractor. Offshoring opponents are convinced that sending patient data overseas is problematic because U.S. patients and healthcare facilities don't have full control over the data, and limited recourse to U.S. courts in the event of a dispute.

The proposed laws range from federal bills that would require patient consent before data can be sent overseas, to state proposals that would prohibit states from contracting with businesses that engage in international outsourcing. Given the current mood of the U.S. populace toward offshoring, and the fact that this is an election year, chances are good that some form of regulation will be passed.

And that could be unfortunate. Unlike other industries, offshoring in radiology isn't just a dollar-and-cents equation. When set up with properly trained and credentialed radiologists, overseas teleradiology offers the opportunity for imaging providers in the U.S. to offer high-quality interpretation services at hours when most radiologists would prefer to sleep. The result: better healthcare for patients and more rested, happier radiologists.

Hopefully, U.S. politicians will resist the knee-jerk reaction to ban all healthcare outsourcing, and will instead craft legislation that addresses its shortcomings while preserving its benefits.

You can read all about the issue in our PACS Digital Community, at pacs.auntminnie.com. And when you're finished, why not let us know what you think about outsourcing in our PACS Digital Community Discussion Group?

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