In the past 100 years, the world has gone through a lot of change. Our ancestors would be surprised to see us driving cars and using the internet. Cutting-edge technologies like cloning and robotics are making a drastic impact on human lives. However, there is a downside to it all. The technological innovations and lack of regulations are making people concerned about security. All industries, from entertainment to finance, have gone through these trials. Healthcare is one such industry.
The complex healthcare industry is a paradox. At one end, medical experts are using the latest technology to improve treatment options and predictive data. On the other hand, the high costs and fragmented nature present several roadblocks to efficiency. And hanging between the balance is the lives of patients who require high-quality care.
An aging global population is further complicating matters. Older people are living longer, and they require expensive medical interventions to lead fulfilling lives.
Here are the top eight challenges within the healthcare sector:
The current healthcare system is going through a crisis. Several people die every year because of medical errors. Patients are also dissatisfied with chronic care. One of the fundamental reasons for the issues within healthcare is the shortage of qualified personnel. Healthcare is becoming increasingly complex, but the current workforce is unable to deal with these issues. Inadequate training is also making it challenging to bridge the care gap. Therefore, there is a growing need for qualified nurses within the sector. For example, employers prefer nurses with BSN degrees because of their competencies. But there is a high rise of RN also. The only driving force is the rn vs bsn salary difference. RNs with a BSN degree are more likely to earn more than those with simply an associate’s degree. For many entry-level nursing positions, a BSN degree gets preference to an associate’s degree. Thus, a BSN has more possibilities to earn more money.
2. Shortage of staff:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare has an acute shortage of medical personnel. Currently, employed physicians are on the verge of retirement, further widening the gap. The aging population is suffering from complex medical conditions that need high-quality care. Furthermore, rural hospitals are also facing physician shortages because most doctors prefer to work in metropolitan areas. Lastly, medical schools and residency programs have enrollment caps to train physicians. Burnout is another significant issue that causes a shortage. Therefore, the healthcare sector must resolve this issue to ease the burden of overworked physicians.
3. Security issues:
Security breaches are common in the digital age. During the covid pandemic, these attacks geared up and increased in frequency. As hospitals move towards online and digital operations, healthcare systems are becoming vulnerable to security risks. Unfortunately, health systems are slow in responding to these concerns. The fragmented and decentralized system makes things more complicated. The Recovery Act of 2009 tried to resolve fragmentation through EHRs. But, new issues soon came to light. The EHR stores a large quantity of patient data between different providers, which is vulnerable to security breaches.
4. AI Integrated software:
Artificial intelligence (AI) is taking over every sector to increase productivity. Even in healthcare, AI is helping professionals improve efficiency. For example, clinicians are using big data and AI integration to improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. For example, clinicians can understand how tumors react to treatment options through AI with modern radiology tools. However, some healthcare systems are still awaiting this technology. Hospitals in low-income areas are struggling to introduce cutting-edge technology to improve the quality of care.
6. Health inequities:
Access to high-quality healthcare is a fundamental human right. Unfortunately, there are stark and persistent disparities in health coverage. These disparities exist on the micro and macro level. Low-income and underdeveloped countries are facing higher mortality rates compared to northern countries. This north-south divide of resources is because of decades of systemic inequality and colonization. Within the United States, people of color are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases. Furthermore, fewer African Americans are insured compared to other ethnicities. Healthcare systems have to address health inequities for a democratic order.
7. The opioid crisis:
Since 2017, America is combating the opioid crisis. The misuse of opioids by seniors and geriatrics has increased drug-related overdoses. Furthermore, the increase in injections contributed to the spread of HIV and hepatitis C. The Covid-19 epidemic also accelerated the rise in opioid addiction. Unfortunately, government officials have failed to address the issue. Recent legislation has also done more harm than good. Experts are calling the crisis a failure of public health. Healthcare policymakers have to address this issue before it becomes a national tragedy. They need to introduce harm-reduction strategies instead of promoting abstinence.
8. The rising cost of healthcare:
The American healthcare system was bloated and expensive. By 2019, several organizations were raising concerns about the financial costs of healthcare. Then came the pandemic, and the world came to a standstill. Now it seems things are going to get worse. According to recent research, the pandemic will end in a public health catastrophe. Lack of exercise during the pandemic and stress deteriorated the health of most people. As we come out of the shadow of immediate threat, these people are more likely to fall ill. Public health bodies will have to increase spending on healthcare to counter these issues. The price of medicines and drug spending will increase because pharmaceutical companies are using biosimilars. Furthermore, the cost of treating Covid patients and administering vaccinations will contribute to rising costs.
During the current pandemic, medical providers struggled to provide direct care to patients. Traditional forms of care faced disruptions because of social distancing. Therefore, operations shifted towards online platforms. However, not all countries had the infrastructure for telehealth. Some countries, like India, experimented with telemedicine. There are several advantages to introducing telemedicine. Telehealth can help address inequities in healthcare and improve access. Telehealth is also decreasing patient wait times. Most health systems are shifting towards a hybrid model post-pandemic.
The past few years have been challenging for healthcare. High costs and widespread shortages have overburdened a crippled healthcare system. The covid pandemic made things worse. As the world comes out of the shadow of the pandemic, leaders will have to renew efforts to address these issues.