There have been many advancements in technology and medicine in recent years. Such changes have transformed the healthcare industry. These innovations have changed patient perspectives on treatment and made diagnostic services faster and more efficient. Furthermore, the system is now more efficient due to the implementation of automation and internet connectivity.
However, it hasn’t been a bed of roses. The industry had its fair share of setbacks, and some factors have contributed to the problem. Many of the challenges are mainly due to a lack of governmental focus on the sector and slow response to industry trends.
Below we will discuss the challenges facing the healthcare industry.
Lack of healthcare professionals:
Undoubtedly, the American healthcare system is going through an emergency, and the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the grim situation. There is a shortage of medical equipment, medicines, and healthcare professionals. This situation is not a complete surprise as experts saw this coming from a mile away. In 2008, the Center for State and Local Government Excellence stated that governments were facing high vacancy rates.
But how did the situation become so grave? That is not an easy question to answer. Many factors lead to a shortage of nurses and doctors. First, there has been a sharp increase in chronic diseases. These diseases require twice as many services as other ailments. Second, the majority of the nurses are geriatrics close to retiring. According to sources, there are about one million registered nurses above the age of 50, and the majority will retire within the next decade. Last, there is a lack of supply due to nursing schools’ limited capacities to meet the rising demands.
Now that we know what has caused the problems, we can discuss possible solutions. Front line workers like RNs (or nurses) should play a central role in policymaking. Such professionals can make better decisions about administration and management. Aspirants have the choice to enroll in online courses like Masters of Science in nursing online and fill the industry’s gap. Such programs can counter the limited capacities of nursing schools.
Like all other sectors, the healthcare industry is also embracing technological advancement wholeheartedly. While this decision makes the system more efficient, it will also make it more vulnerable to hackers. Healthcare providers keep sensitive records of patients, and they are highly susceptible to data breaches.
Attacks on healthcare systems have increased by 95% since 2009. Not only can hackers access the data of patients, but they can also disrupt medical devices. Nowadays, most medical devices offer remote access, and hackers can use this feature to perform malicious acts.
Medical organizations must rethink the structure of proprietary networks. Therefore only authorized personnel should be allowed to use medical devices.
High costs of pharmaceuticals:
The American healthcare system is one of the most expensive in the world. One of the reasons for the high treatment costs is the exorbitant prices of prescription drugs. Indeed, some medications can cost up to $120,000 per year. According to research, prescription drugs account for 10% of the total expenditure for annual healthcare budgets.
But why are medicines so expensive? Manufacturers have a monopoly on the drug market in America. There are few competitors, and since most drugs have no alternatives, manufacturers can set their rates. To illustrate: there are only three companies that manufacture insulin for the American population.
Furthermore, American authorities do not regulate the rates of medicines. Other countries have agencies that meet with manufacturers to set a reasonable price on the drug. But America has no such authority to intercede with the pharmaceutical manufacturers on its behalf.
Manufacturers argue that their costs go towards research and drug development. Understandably, development costs are high because it takes a lot of time for drugs to reach from texting phases to final approval. Some manufacturers estimate development prices at approximately $3 billion. Manufacturers pass on the cost of development to consumers by increasing the prices of their drugs.
COVID-19 and the novel challenges:
Global healthcare systems are facing new challenges in the wake of COVID 19. The epidemic illustrates that the world is wholly unprepared to deal with statewide medical emergencies.
Most hospitals did not have the proper protection equipment, so front line fighters like doctors and nurses treat patients while risking themselves.
In the initial stages of the virus, states did not have enough ventilators for patients’ influx. Furthermore, due to space constrictions hospitals, could not isolate victims properly. The shortage of testing facilities and slow response rates made the situation even more critical.
What was the solution? Healthcare professionals should have innovative strategies to deal with emerging problems. Countries have to focus on infrastructure and provide hospitals with the necessary equipment to avoid a recap of the current situation.
The most pressing concern is the dwindling numbers of healthcare providers, which is the biggest reason for the inept healthcare sector. Another challenge is the high costs of treatment because of rising drug costs. If things are to change, healthcare professionals and government authorities must play an active role in regulation and management.