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Thursday, September 10, 2009

BPO Company offers nurses alternative to leaving RP

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FILIPINO nurses may opt to stay in the country to work as “digital medical butlers” for a medical knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) firm that will put up training facilities and a contact center to service clients abroad.

In a briefing on Wednesday, Wei Siang Yu, Fly Free for Health Group of Companies founder and chief executive officer, said the company’s Philippine subsidiary, Life Stage Communication, will put up facilities in Manila and Davao in the next six months, through which registered Filipino nurses can assist patients online.

“Instead of nurses leaving the Philippines to work in a hospital outside the country, Filipino nurses can now stay here and still tap the global, borderless healthcare and medical tourism market,” Wei said.

“They can just communicate with their patients via the In-ternet,” he said.

Wei said the company will invest between $2 million and $4 million for the two facilities, and will initially hire about 100 registered nurses.

He said the Philippine facility can attract potential clients from 50 healthcare institutions and organizations from all over the world that are affiliated with Fly Free for Health.

Fly Free for Health is in talks with five major local hospitals, he said, adding that they hope to seal partnership agreements here within the next six weeks.

Wei also said state-led healthcare reforms in countries such as the US and Singapore, as well as aging populations, will likely increase the viability of medical outsourcing. He said this will benefit more Filipino health professionals, who are in demand due to their English-language skills, good education and innate hospitality.

Eleanor Artemia Gapuz, RA Gapuz Review Center president and chief executive officer, said about 400,000 nurses in the country were unemployed last year and the popularity of the profession can add 20,000 more nursing graduates a year. While Filipinos abound in skills and talent, working visas for nurses in foreign lands are still very limited, she said.

“Filipino nurses have to look for alternative opportunities besides working abroad, and working as a medical butler is a good one,” she added.

Cited as among the domestic industries that showed resilience amid the economic slowdown, the Philippine business process outsourcing (BPO) industry expects to grow between 20 percent and 30 percent this year, and employ more than 450,000 people by yearend. This sector grew 26 percent last year with revenues of $6.061 billion.

Officials of the Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP) projected growth of between 15 percent and 20 percent for call centers this year, while the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) expects nonvoice, such as animation and back office operations, as well as KPOs to grow over 100 percent this year.

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