The healthcare industry was one of the most contentious issues during the last election and it continues to be a source of argument across the country. There is a lot of debate about whether the current healthcare system is working properly or whether it needs serious reform. Any attempts at reform in the past are being unravelled and there is a case for saying that the industry is in crisis.
Insurance and affordable healthcare are two of the major issues that people tend to discuss but are they really the worst problems in the healthcare industry right now? While it is a question that needs answering, there are a lot of other things that need fixing. These are some of the biggest challenges facing the healthcare industry right now.
Unnecessary care is a huge problem because it uses resources on patients that don’t have urgent issues which means that the patients that are in a more serious condition have longer waits. Estimates suggest that around a third of healthcare spending goes on unnecessary care. Early baby deliveries make up a huge proportion of this unnecessary care and although medical professionals have spent the last few decades trying to convince people that they aren’t necessary, they’re still standard practice in a lot of places. Regardless of the advice from medical bodies, the rate of unnecessary early deliveries has increased dramatically since the 1990’s.
When resources are being wasted on unnecessary care, staff levels are more important than ever. Unfortunately, there are staff shortages in a lot of areas of the healthcare industry. There are not enough nurses completing bsn to msn online courses so they are qualified to fill more senior positions. There is also a general shortage of nurses which means a lot of medical centers are having to use temporary nurses, or travel nurses, that fill temporary spots when there aren’t enough nurses to cover all of the beds. The only alternative is to close the beds which means less room for patients. Although new medical technology is picking up some of the slack, staff shortages coupled with unnecessary care are still causing a big problem.
Harm To Patients
You’d hope that your chances of coming to more harm when you’re in hospital would be very slim but that’s not the case. In a lot of places you’ve got about a 1 in 4 chance of sustaining some extra harm during your stay and in some cases, there have even been unavoidable deaths. An overstretched workforce is always more likely to make mistakes and they’re costing the healthcare industry a lot of money as well as seriously damaging the level of care. The issue of harm to patients could be rectified largely by hiring more staff so people aren’t working dangerously long hours and are less prone to making mistakes.
Cyber security is a concern for lots of different industries but it hasn’t been top of the list of problems in healthcare, however, that’s going to change over the next few years. New technology is going to be one of the best tools we have for improving healthcare and reducing the costs. Things like mobile apps that can give you a preliminary diagnosis or online sessions with a GP will take the pressure off medical facilities but they introduce their own set of problems. If all of your medical information is being stored online, there is a risk of cyber attacks and theft of that data. A lot of money needs to go in updating security to keep up with all of the new advancements and if the healthcare industry can’t afford it, a lot of patients are at risk.
Mental Health Issues
In the past, there has been a lot of stigma around mental health issues which means that people were often not diagnosed because they didn’t feel comfortable going to a doctor about it. In the last couple of years that has changed a lot and mental health problems are now accepted for the medical issues they are. That’s a good thing because it means more people are getting help but it also puts a lot more strain on the healthcare industry. Because of the lack of demand in the past, there are not enough trained mental health professionals to deal with the larger number of patients. Unless the industry redirects the necessary amount of funding to mental health clinics, there is going to be a big backlog and patients won’t get the care that they desperately need.
The way that people pay for their healthcare is a concern for sure but the healthcare industry has wider issues to deal with this year as well.