Points of View

Can BPO Providers Make “Business Cloud” More than a Dream in Healthcare?

Jun 28, 2015 Barbra McGann

The recent swirl in the press around the launch of “Antworks” caught the attention of HfS because it maps tightly to one of the 8 Ideals of the As-a-Service Economy: “Business Cloud.” The premise of Antworks—announced and funded with $8 million in seed money but not yet operating—is to provide only “plug and play” business process as a service (BPaaS) and technology in the healthcare and financial services industries.


In our recent research on the “Ideals of the As-a-Service Economy,” 67% of healthcare and pharma executives stated they would be willing to write off IT legacy investments and move straight into the cloud if they could find the solution that gave them speed to value.


So this kind of announcement catches our attention, as we consider:


  • How quickly can an intended “born in the cloud” service provider like this one get operational, prove value, and show results, particularly in the healthcare industry, which tends to be conservative and move at a slower pace?
  • Will it be faster than existing service providers can show impact through their own investments in retraining and realigning talent, reimagining processes with automation, embedding analytics, and building business process services in the cloud?  


A new entrant like Antworks comes in with a “cutting edge” mentality and without the burden of existing business to manage and change; yet established providers have depth and breadth of capability, credibility, financial stability (extremely important to BFSI and healthcare clients) and relationships to their advantage.


For the forthcoming Healthcare Payer Operations Blueprint, HfS is looking at how service providers are addressing “Business Cloud.” We’re interviewing services buyers on their willingness and ability to consume services this way and are finding examples of Business Cloud/BPaaS solutions that are architected, proposed, or being piloted. The greatest momentum is with offerings that address a new business problem or opportunity because of consumerism and/ or regulation.


One example is Cognizant’s Onvida people, process, and platform offering for quickly standing up a multichannel consumer engagement capability for a network of providers to support coordinated care management. Wipro has a similarly packaged offering in use, specific to Medicaid eligibility and enrollment, with a hosted platform and business services. We also see service providers working with cloud-based “bolt-ons” to current systems. Genpact’s Intelligent Process Insight Engine has a rules-based workflow and capability for targeted outcomes, such as the Special Investigation Unit to identify and reduce fraud, waste, and abuse using claims analytics.  With additional regulation around provider data, Accenture is seeing increased interest in its people/process/application solution to drive increased accuracy.


While service providers are identifying opportunities for such As-a-Service offerings, they are finding the most traction with clients where they have the strongest relationships in the business units. Most service buyers tell us that the future portfolio will include:


  • A mix of today’s service providers (but fewer of them overall) that apply new thinking to current processes and systems—like Accenture’s and Genpact’s approaches
  • Those that can stand up complete packages that deliver a result quickly with infrastructure, application, people, and process like the Wipro and Cognizant examples
  • “Born in the cloud” providers, à la Antworks


The timeline for “Business Cloud” deployment momentum seems to be about 18 – 24 months out. However, the need to drive significant change in healthcare due to consumerism, regulatory, and competitive challenges could drive adoption of Business Cloud sooner rather than later, especially as the capability is now more a reality than a dream.