Business: Medical transcription service Locations: Sterling, Va.; Bangalore, India; and homes across the United States Site rationale: Access to labor
The founders of HealthScribe Inc. (#20 on the 2000 Inc. 500) set up their company in Sterling, Va., a suburb just outside Washington, D.C., seven years ago because they wanted a short commute. But they knew that the chance of finding enough qualified medical transcriptionists -- individuals capable of transcribing medical findings, consultations, diagnoses, and reports -- in a single city was slim. So the company recruited employees from across the United States and allowed them to work at home over the Internet. Then HealthScribe hired additional workers in Bangalore, a city of 6 million people that is considered the Silicon Valley of India.
HealthScribe pays its Indian workers less than it does its American employees, says CEO Michael King. However, the company must provide its Bangalore staff with offices because they typically need Internet access, which is not widely available in India. In the United States, where online connections are much more commonplace, the company doesn't have to invest as much in office space. HealthScribe employs fewer than 100 people in its Virginia office, and those workers handle accounting, technical support, and strategic planning. The rest of the workforce, totaling roughly 900 people, is about evenly divided between those who live in Bangalore and those in the United States who work at home, in places as far-flung as Boynton Beach, Fla., and Wahiawa, Hawaii. "Any work can be done anywhere," says King.
Since the company straddles both sides of the globe, it is able to serve its customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are, of course, differences between the business cultures of the two countries. King says, for example, that he sees "the domestic life of U.S. households reflected in the work flow," where production is low in the early morning, peaks in the middle of the day, and tapers off again in late afternoon, as kids get home from school. Then there's the daunting challenge of managing the Bangalore operation from afar. To relieve that burden, King recently enlisted a local joint venture partner, the Max Group, based in New Delhi.