April 18, 2024

The Growth of Life Sciences Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Industry in India

The Rise of the Indian Life Sciences BPO Industry

Over the past decade, the Life Sciences business process outsourcing industry in India has experienced tremendous growth. Major pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device companies from Western markets started outsourcing non-core business functions like clinical data management, medical billing & coding, medical transcription and claims processing to specialized BPO firms based in India. This was due to various advantages India offered such as availability of English-speaking talent pool, lower costs of operations, existing skills in healthcare administration and time-zone differences working in favor of round-the-clock services.

Initially, the main functions outsourced included back-office administration, customer support and basic clinical data processing. However, as Indian Life Sciences BPO companies refined their capabilities, they started taking on more complex work such as clinical trial data management, medical imaging analysis, clinical monitoring and pharmacovigilance. The talent pool in India also upgraded their skills through training programs and certifications. This allowed Life Sciences giants to realize bigger cost savings of up to 50-70% compared to in-house operations in Western markets.

Clinical Research Services Dominate Outsourcing

Today, clinical research services account for the largest share of the Life Sciences BPO industry in India. Major functions including clinical data management, medical writing, biostatistics, pharmacovigilance and regulatory services are commonly outsourced. With their experience and skilled workforce, Indian Life Sciences BPO firms have emerged as trusted partners for global pharmaceutical companies to manage large-scale clinical trials across different geographies and therapeutic areas. This has helped accelerate new drug development.

Medical Coding & Billing is another key segment attracting high outsourcing. Indian coders are trained to code medical procedures, diagnoses and services using classification systems like ICD-9, ICD-10 and CPT codes. They perform coding of physician notes, patient records and insurance claim documents to facilitate reimbursements. Other commonly outsourced functions include medical transcription, customer service, research platform management and sales force outsourcing.

Life Sciences Specialists Offer 24/7 Services

Most major Indian Life Sciences BPO companies have established facilities across multiple cities with thousands of employees dedicated to the industry. They have sophisticated technological infrastructure and ISO & NABH certified facilities to ensure compliance with quality and regulatory standards. Given the time-zone advantage, these firms are able to provide 24/7 services to support clinical trial and business operations of life sciences clients globally. This round-the-clock delivery model has become a key differentiator.

Companies have invested heavily in building separate life sciences-focused divisions with dedicated skilled professionals. Domain experts with advanced medical and research degrees are employed for roles requiring higher analytical skills. Robust work processes and workflow management tools ensure high quality output and adherence to strict timelines even while handling large volumes of complex work. Regulated environments are strictly maintained as per laws of countries where clinical trials are being conducted.

Advancing Technologies Drive Further Growth

Technology is playing a critical role in revolutionizing as well as accelerating the Life Sciences BPO industry in India. Implementation of advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA), blockchain, data analytics is helping drive higher efficiency, lower costs and improve compliance. AI and machine learning are being used for tasks like medical imaging analysis and data extraction from documents. This is allowing more accurate insights to be delivered faster while reducing human errors.

RPA bots have automated several repetitive tasks in processes like clinical data abstraction, claims intake and back-office functions. This is freeing up human resources for value-added work. Cloud computing solutions facilitate secure sharing and storage of sensitive healthcare data. Adoption of other technologies such as digital pills, eClinical solutions, telemedicine is also expected to open new avenues for Life Sciences BPO firms to participate in transforming healthcare worldwide. The industry remains upbeat to capitalize on these opportunities for continued growth over the next decade.

Emerging as a Global Innovation Hub

Going forward, Indian Life Sciences BPO companies want to transition from being just outsourcing partners to global innovation hubs. They are widening their capabilities beyond transactional services into knowledge-based domains like real world evidence generation, AI/ML model development, analytics driven clinical research and novel drug discovery involving genomics. International partnerships and strategic collaborations are being formed to incubate new ideas and build niche competencies.

The aim is to work closely with global pharmaceutical & medical device majors right from the concept stage of their R&D projects. India’s strengths in low-cost yet high-quality generics manufacturing also provide synergies. For instance, supporting clinical trials as well as commercialization activities from the same location will deliver even greater value. Developing centers of excellence for specialized areas like oncology, dermatology and rare diseases using local talent pools is another focus.

This strategy is expected to take the Indian Life Sciences BPO industry to the next phase of serving as an integral part of global innovation pipelines. Access to India’s vast clinical data repositories combined with advanced digital capabilities can potentially help address the world’s growing healthcare challenges more effectively. The sector looks set on an exciting growth trajectory as a key innovation partner for international life sciences companies globally.

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  1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
  2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it