Health is undoubtedly the greatest wealth. However, it is the only wealth that is not resolving issues for its sector. The pressure on the healthcare sector is mounting with time. Modern-day utilities are bringing comfort to our life but are also posing new healthcare challenges. With every passing day, healthcare necessities, patients count, and resource requirements are increasing. Under such circumstances, sudden healthcare shocks like the COVID-19 pandemic worsen the situation even further. The wake of the COVID pandemic reiterated the dilapidated state of the global healthcare sector at large.
According to Policy Advice, most developed countries are spending around 10% of their GDP on healthcare. The global healthcare expenditure is expected to reach a whopping $10 trillion by the end of 2022. By all means, it is a huge industry and has been receiving billions of dollars of investment for a long time. It has seen radical improvements in different healthcare aspects as well. However, the healthcare industry faces specific challenges that are still unaddressed, especially in the developing world. According to WeForum, about 6 million people die every year in the developing world due to improper healthcare facilities.
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A well-defined problem is half solved. Therefore, understanding the challenges is the first step in resolving them. This article aids the reader in understanding issues related to the healthcare industry. It highlights seven significant challenges facing the healthcare industry in 2021.
1. Shortage of Healthcare Workers
According to WHO, there are about 60 million healthcare workers in the world. The amount is undoubtedly less than optimally required. Another issue that adds to the lack of skilled professionals stems from healthcare professionals’ inability to choose their field of choice. Most healthcare aspirants haphazardly choose a healthcare specialization only to regret their decision later. However, today, they can opt for degrees that allow them to tap into various healthcare fields without being restricted to one. For instance, an online general studies bachelor’s degree is highly beneficial for those looking to enter into non-clinical areas. Such online programs help them identify their field of interest within the vast umbrella of medical specializations. Furthermore, WHO already predicts the shortage of 18 million healthcare workers by 2030. If the existing ones are also not entirely dedicated to their job, it will further exacerbate the situation.
2. High demand, Fewer Resources for Telehealth
Telehealth is the delivery of medical services through digital mediums. Medical professionals are using remote technologies to provide medical assistance and disseminate medical guidance. Mobile health apps, Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) systems, and Health Information Services (HIS) have become the new norm of the medical industry. According to BCC Research, the telehealth market reached around $20 billion in 2019. However, the main challenge is to meet the demand. Numerous remote areas in the world are deprived of proper healthcare services. Consequently, there is a very high demand for telehealth services. But the medical infrastructure is not mature enough to meet the demand.
3. Concerns of Cybersecurity
With the booming involvement of information technology in the healthcare industry comes cybersecurity as another one of the major global health issues. As mentioned above, IT and healthcare mergers like telehealth are in high demand. However, it poses data security threats as well. Hackers are always lurking around in search of a new catch. For instance, identity theft has become very common in the medical industry. Hackers use the stolen data for insurance frauds, data piracy, and funds robbery. It has become a massive challenge for the healthcare industry. Most healthcare providers are already working on it, and some have made their infrastructure secure too. However, cybercriminals are also improving their cybertheft mechanisms.
4. Lack of Physicians
According to World Bank, there is not even one doctor per 1000 people in low to middle-income countries. The crisis of doctors is increasing day by day. Countries with mass populations are facing a severe shortage of doctors and trained medical professionals. This concern is a double-edged sword. On one side, there is a lack of doctors. Whereas, on the other, the additional burden on the existing ones reduces their productivity.
On the whole, it inflicts extreme challenges for the entire medical machinery. To compensate for the shortage, inefficient and unprofessional medical staff fills the void. That is when mistreatment cases arise, and patients face further complications.
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5. Healthcare is Becoming More Expensive
Health issues of a family member are simply a nightmare for a middle and low-income family in 2021. Having a loved one with a terminal illness means mounds of debts and upfront costs of medicines. Every aspect of healthcare has become increasingly expensive in current times. The pharmaceutical drug contributes the most significant chunk in this soaring cost of healthcare facilities. According to Investopedia, increasing pharmaceutical drug costs are responsible for a 50% rise in the overall healthcare services. Another significant contributor is the increase in health insurance premiums. It rose by 37% from 2015 to 2020. All these costs are pulling away quality healthcare services from needy people.
6. The Unacceptability of Non-medicinal Treatment
The entire dynamics of the medical industry have become entirely reliant on medicinal treatment. Traditional medical remedies are not accepted in the mainstream. Therefore, the treatment procedures expose patients to chemicals and radiation a lot. Energy healing has shown promising results in nourishing mental and physical health. However, you will never find conventional medical treatments coupled with such remedies to improve the overall patient experience. It creates a gap between people preferring either of the two. The medical industry faces a challenge to fuse these two different medical approaches efficiently. Nonetheless, there can be better treatments with an essence of both.
7. Tedious Billing and Administrative Processes
Long queues, a dozen forms, several counters, and tedious payment processes are visible across every healthcare facility. The billing and administrative procedures in the healthcare industry at large are highly tedious, repelling most people. It also increases the chances of error, leading to a dire need to simplify medical billing and administrative processes. IT applications like ERP systems, embedded payment mechanisms, and online document maintenance are aiding the processes. However, there is still a lot to overcome and a long way to go. These issues are a genuine concern, especially in the developing world. The Tech spread rate is already low in these countries. Therefore, it will take some time till these processes reach there.
COVID pandemic has unfolded new avenues where the medical industry needs improvements. Strengthening the healthcare industry is one of the global health issues that should be the utmost priority of the world. It is our best mechanism to fight against emerging issues like the COVID pandemic. The year 2021 is the first step toward regaining the lost track. The need is to propel the efforts, face the challenges, and improve the healthcare industry.