Ascension plans to outsource more of its technology support services, which will displace 651 of its employees, the health system said in Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act letter.
Most of the impacted employees work remotely, according to the notice dated April 27, which also noted that employees can apply for other positions in its information technology services arm Ascension Technologies as well as with the third-party vendor. The St. Louis-based health system made similar moves with its Michigan-based IT workforce last summer, which impacted more than 200 employees.
"Ascension Technologies, after extended discernment and as part of its technology transformation, has made the decision to engage a third-party to perform the work currently performed by employees providing technology support for various electronic health record, revenue cycle and other ancillary systems," the notice reads.
An Ascension spokesperson declined to comment on whether more outsourcing-related workforce changes are on the horizon, but pointed Modern Healthcare to an April 27 blog post by Gerry Lewis, chief information officer at Ascension.
"While we have been on a journey of digital transformation for many years, the pandemic has created a greater sense of urgency to eliminate friction and improve the customer experience," he wrote. "This level of transformation to meet changing consumer and clinician needs and expectations has required us to reimagine our approach to technology and the workforce, and will result in some structural changes as to how we get this work done."
Ascension has continued to outsource its ancillary services, particularly in revenue cycle management.
More than 1,000 Ascension employees were eligible for trade adjustment assistance from 2010 through January 2020, which was the most of any health system in Modern Healthcare's analysis of U.S. Labor Department data.
Ascension reported a $639.4 million operating loss on operating revenue of $25.26 billion in 2020, down from a $130.6 million operating income on operating revenue of $25.32 billion in 2019.