Hospitals reluctant to outsource EMR work to India

Here's a little conundrum arising in the race to implement electronic medical records: Vendors want to save money and offer lower prices by outsourcing IT work to India and similar locales. But hospitals don't want sensitive medical data sent overseas, for a number of reasons.

"Hospitals say they have practical reasons for being reluctant to work with offshore vendors, citing the efficiency of doing work on site and the potential legal complications of shipping sensitive health information to other countries," reports the Wall Street Journal.

There's an "emotional barrier" to sending EMR work to South Asia, outsourcing executive Nishant Verma tells the Journal. "Though it is never said overtly, it is much harder for Indian suppliers to get these kinds of contracts than their American counterparts," Verma says.

And then there's HIPAA. Multi-hospital system Christus Health will only use offshore vendors for systems that de-identify personal information. "As soon as it leaves the confines of the U.S., it's not subject to the same rigorous laws as we are," CIO George Conklin explains to the Journal. But Indian outsourcing companies say they follow the same standards for information security as U.S. data processors.

For a closer look at this issue:
- see this Wall Street Journal story