The healthcare industry contributes significantly to societal well-being and economic growth. A strong healthcare system reflects a country’s level of development, so it is crucial to address any obstacles that can potentially derange the system.
Undoubtedly, many technological and medical innovations have radically changed service delivery. But despite all these tremendous improvements, healthcare facilities are still falling short in certain areas due to unyielding and unprecedented situations. COVID-19, in particular, has created a new climate. Maintaining a medical practice is no longer just about treating patients due to quickly changing government laws, pandemic recovery, technological improvements, and patient expectations.
While novelties and advancements can change the healthcare system forever, it will take some time for the breakthroughs to reach their full potential. So until that happens, here’s a list of some challenges that remain a major concern in the healthcare industry.
- Shortage of healthcare staff
Many industry groups predict that 100,000 doctors will be scarce by 2030. In this case, technology can help in various ways, such as telehealth. Even in remote areas, live streaming, store-and-forward imaging, and remote patient diagnostics can enhance access to healthcare. However, consistent professional development and infrastructure improvements are critical to reducing healthcare staffing shortages. The introduction of technology into the healthcare industry has completely altered how education and training are delivered. For instance, e-learning is now the new norm. Healthcare professionals can enroll in various educational programs while continuing their professional life. For example, professionals looking to reach for a position beyond bedside care can apply for a Healthcare Management Masters program from any reputable institution and seek administrative opportunities.
Moreover, many clinical trials are being held on acute illness, patient involvement, and improving staff communication. It is a good sign for effective healthcare workforce shortage solutions.
- Financial challenges
Global healthcare spending is expected to rise. A variety of factors influence the financial performance of the healthcare economy, including:
- The need for personalized medicine
- Public funding
- The spread of digital innovation
- Market entry of companies creating new and unconventional competition
- Demand for medical centers with expanded services and optimized payment models
Healthcare market experts are constantly looking for cutting-edge technologies and strategic alliances. Stakeholders are also looking into alternative revenue streams, such as vertical integration.
Healthcare facilities stress the importance of strict financial management, organizational effectiveness, health outcomes, and innovative solutions. That can improve medical care quality, lower costs, and create a coherent structure of costs and healthcare models in compliance with existing trends and payment models for medical services.
There is now a movement toward developing financial incentives based on patient outcomes to cut costs and improve the quality of medical services. Customers want new payment models like bundled payments, global payments, disbursement to healthcare providers, and shared savings. All of this can help to improve service coordination, encourage preventive care, and inspire healthcare providers.
- Patient experience
There have been significant changes in the health coverage landscape in recent years. As more patients bear a greater share of their healthcare costs, they naturally expect better services from their providers. Healthcare organizations will face increased competition in retaining and attracting patients who expect the same level of customer service from other consumer brands. They expect a simplified patient experience to “self-service” to resolve most questions, issues, or worries whenever, wherever, and however they see fit.
Every staff must have access to the most up-to-date patient information from a single centralized location for healthcare businesses that provide various services in numerous locations. Not only will it provide a better patient experience (who wants to hear their story from the beginning every time?), but it will also save time. However, it can also help avoid potentially deadly mishaps such as drug interactions. Furthermore, creating a patient portal that centralizes all patient interactions can improve and streamline the user experience. To avoid costly mistakes, it also allows all employees to access each patient’s history – which is revised in real-time – from a single centralized record.
- Integrated health services
The usage of connected medical devices and AI-integrated software applications can provide healthcare companies with a massive amount of data that they can use to generate information. Connective device information, administrative data, clinical notes, transcripts, and patient medical records are all examples of such data. However, most care providers, even the most prestigious healthcare organizations, lack advanced architecture and information management systems for managing data collected from various sources.
The use of rational database systems, which are incapable of efficiently managing unstructured data from multiple sources, means that the value of the information they receive is not definitive. A switch from relational to non-relational databases could help healthcare providers deal with unstructured and semi-structured data. As the company expands and the volume of data increases, the database architecture can accommodate the additional data. Healthcare organizations must plan all models for all management layers and partner with a dependable integrator with a mature service management process to support integrated health systems.
Although data breaches and other cybersecurity concerns are not new to the healthcare sector, the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated just how vulnerable patient data is. The recent expansion of digital health initiatives, such as telehealth doctor visits, is a major contributor to the significant increase in breached patient records. As more healthcare functions move online, ensuring that these processes are secure from outside threats is critical. This trend will continue because many healthcare providers are slow to react to threats, making decentralized systems vulnerable to attacks.
When a breach happens, you not only jeopardize confidential patient information. But also risk a hefty fine if you are found to have violated the industry’s many compliant benchmarks. Many healthcare organizations invest in proper precautions to protect sensitive patient data better. Simple steps such as implementing multi-factor verification and strong firewalls help to reduce hackers’ success. Third-party patient engagement vendors are also required by practices to have the HITRUST Certification. It combines broad guidelines from COBIT, PCI, HIPPA, HITECH, and other regulations. Vendors who hold this certification are far less vulnerable to ransomware attacks or data breaches.
So that concludes our list of challenges playing a huge role in derailing the healthcare industry. However, suppose we can look at these challenges as opportunities for improvement. In that case, we can create a better future for healthcare. And of course, this will require a far-reaching, systemic change of the entire structure, but things will fall into place with time.