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BW Businessworld

‘Obamacare and ICD-10 Opened New Vistas For Healthcare BPO Industry'

Gopi Natarajan, co-founder and CEO of Omega Healthcare, tells BW | Businessworld's Haider Ali Khan about the company's future strategy and expansion plan

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Working on medical billing and coding and other aggregators of precision and hospital revenue cycle business on behalf of a host of companies, Omega Healthcare has huge facilities at Bangalore, Trichy, Chennai and Manila with a total headcount of around 10,000. The company is growing at the rate of 30-35 per cent annually.

Gopi Natarajan, co-founder and CEO of Omega Healthcare, tells BW | Businessworld's Haider Ali Khan about the company's future strategy and expansion plan. Edited excerpts:

On Omega Healthcare

Omega Healthcare is the premier offshore provider of healthcare outsourcing services, specializing in revenue cycle management (RCM). With the vision of becoming a global leader in the sector, Omega started its operations in 2004 and currently has close to 10,000 employees across its four facilities - Bangalore, Chennai, Trichy and Manila (Philippines) and is looking to expand its workforce with 1,500 more employees by next quarter. The organisation handles revenue cycle management and related work for large US-based healthcare providers. We are growing at a rate of 30 per cent to 35 per cent annually and is almost in line with the industry growth rate of 35 per cent to 40 per cent.

On medical coding in India after ICD-10

Medical coding is mainly associated with allocating standardised numeric and alphanumeric codes for different medical diagnosis, procedures and supplies, documented in the patient’s medical record by healthcare providers. It has emerged as one of the exciting career opportunities for healthcare professionals – medics and paramedics across the globe.

Indian healthcare BPO sector is witnessing a sharp increase in medical coding requirement from US. The healthcare industry there, in the recent months, underwent a massive migration from ICD-9 to ICD-10 coding system, the tenth revision of WHO’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD). This development has easily brought about 30 per cent increase in opportunities, with US healthcare providers more open to off shoring now, due to shortage of coders there. The employment opportunities for medical coders who are able to work on the new complicated coding system is growing rapidly.

With this, the healthcare BPO sector is hiring trained, efficient and certified coders in huge numbers. Both Obamacare and migration to ICD-10 will provide opportunities similar to the shift that took place in the beginning of the century, with the number of medical coders in the country expected to double in the coming 2-3 years.

Housing 15,000 – 16,000 coders, India has the second largest pool of medical coders after the US, and 70 per cent of them are already trained in ICD-10.

On Obamacare and ICD-10
Obamacare and ICD-10 implementation has opened up vast opportunities for the healthcare BPO industry in the country with huge demand for certified medical coders as India continues to secure a major portion of the outsourced pie compared to other countries.

With this new regulation, accurate identification of diseases and reimbursement of health insurance claims will be more complex as the number of codes have increased from 16,000 (ICD-9) to 1,25,000 (ICD-10). This work requires high levels of skill from trained and experienced coders.

We at Omega Healthcare are fully prepared to handle assignments with the new coding system and 100 per cent of our coders are fully trained to handle the ICD-10 related work.

On Omega Medical Coding Academy

Omega Medical Coding Academy (OMCA) was created to leverage the vast experience we had at Omega Healthcare Management Services to benefit interested students and the industry as a whole. It is the ‘first-of-its-kind’ business-academia collaboration to provide training for deserving candidates to become high-calibre professional medical coders to serve this fast growth sector.

Having trained and placed 1,000 coders, absorbing most of them, since its inception last year, OMCA stands as a reputed medical coding resource provider to the industry. Eligibility criteria for the training programme include any medical, para-medical or graduates/post-graduates in life-sciences and allied subjects.

OMCA is operational at Chennai and Trichy for now. We are planning to launch it in Bangalore this year.