Most industries experience unique problems and issues and healthcare is no exception. In the healthcare industry, registered nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals deal with systemic issues every day.
However, advances in technology are focused on mitigating these challenges to allow the healthcare industry to be more efficient at achieving its goal of helping people remain healthy. The same basic skills required for success as a caregiver also can enable clinical professionals to take advantage of new technology and improve the delivery of all manner of medical services. Review the common problems healthcare is facing and how advanced technologies may solve them.
Problems In Healthcare
The healthcare industry focuses on helping people remain healthy. However, it faces several issues that can affect its ability to achieve this goal.
Not all patients have easy access to healthcare and medical treatments when they need it. Some patients face barriers to treatment, such as transportation or a demanding work schedule. Patients without access to transportation or without free time may find themselves neglecting their health because they can’t take time off from work or don’t have a way to get to a health provider’s office.
Healthcare staff shortages are also negatively impacting the industry and making it hard for patients to find adequate treatment and scheduling flexibility. Hardworking healthcare professionals maintain demanding schedules and workloads, which can make it tough for patients to seek treatment when needed. When patients live in remote locations, they may not have available medical professionals closeby, making it a challenge to obtain healthcare.
Medicare and Medicaid
Medicare and Medicaid are government healthcare programs that assist qualified patients in paying for covered medical care. However, these programs have confusing, complex, and differing healthcare expenses reimbursement systems. As a result, health systems and physicians may decide not to even accept patients who rely on these federal programs for healthcare coverage.
Medical professionals who must submit claims for payment to these programs spend their time attempting to learn and follow the ever-changing rules and procedures. Doctors are required to follow extra steps, including filling out specific forms, before they’re reimbursed for the treatment they provided to covered patients, which can be frustrating and time-consuming.
The mismanagement of the healthcare industry’s supply chain underlies a host of issues, from a lack of access to essential supplies to missing documentation and lost resources. Supply chain issues can also lead to lost or damaged inventory and wasted drugs or equipment, which can be costly for medical providers and suppliers — and ultimately, to patients and other stakeholders in the system.
Healthcare facilities experience extreme financial losses when drugs, medical supplies, and equipment are lost or misplaced. These profit losses can negatively affect all aspects of the healthcare industry, including out-of-pocket expenses for patients.
When healthcare professionals store patient health history and data, it’s useful in the future for accurate diagnosis and to develop effective treatment plans. However, this data must be stored securely and efficiently so it remains safe and useful.
Many healthcare professionals don’t have the proper documentation systems and protocols in place to handle the large amounts of data associated with their patients. This can lead to dangerous data breaches or expensive investments in additional staffing or software to help manage the data and retrieve it efficiently.
Quality of Care
Many healthcare facilities are understaffed, lacking nurses and support staff as well as specialists to keep up with the needs of patient populations. Understaffing can cause existing caregivers to be overworked, increasing the risk of human error, and straining the system to provide adequate levels of care.
Efficient delivery of care isn’t possible in a system struggling to stay afloat, and the risk of burnout or compassion fatigue can become critical. With staff lacking the necessary resources, support, and flexibility to manage self-care, patient care can suffer.
Many of these healthcare problems can be solved with technological advancements currently entering the field. There are several technology solutions that address the issues many healthcare providers, patients, and medical staff face today.
Using telehealth, patients can connect with healthcare professionals in the comfort of their own home. Telehealth has had a positive impact on patients who can’t afford to travel, can’t take time off from work to visit a doctor, or who have mobility issues.
Through phone conversations or video chats, healthcare professionals can better understand what patients are experiencing. They can virtually provide them with accurate treatment plans, prescriptions for medication, or general healthcare advice.
With remote patient monitoring (RPM), doctors use technology to virtually meet with patients. This allows them to check on symptoms and monitor patients with chronic medical conditions without the need to schedule an in-office appointment. With this advanced technology, healthcare providers maximize their working time and patients save their resources while still obtaining the treatment they need.
Electronic Health Record Systems
Healthcare professionals who keep manual health record systems waste staff’s time and experience disorganization that can make it hard to access data when they need it. With electronic health record (EHR) systems, patient data is organized and secure. These EHR systems save time and money while allowing medical professionals to review patient history and record health changes in a few clicks.
Electronic patient data organization and secure storage have both become vital parts of the healthcare industry. Nurses can specialize in nursing informatics and learn how to advance the healthcare field and improve treatments through big data.
Inventory Management System
Both healthcare administrative professionals and providers benefit from a comprehensive inventory management system. With an effective system in place, healthcare professionals have access to accurate supply, equipment, and prescription drug inventory numbers.
With data visualizations and past usage numbers, administrative professionals can more accurately predict when to reorder stock, decreasing waste, and making it easier to prepare for expenses.
Patient paperwork, medical history, and other data must be properly handled and organized, which hinders the healthcare staff’s ability to complete other tasks. With cloud-based infrastructure, medical professionals have easier and faster access to this data, which is more organized and easier to read.
This advanced technology allows medical staff to securely store patient information quickly and systematically, saving time and ensuring data is handled safely.
Robots, machine learning, and image recognition aren’t just technologies being incorporated into household and personal devices; these technologies are also expanding to improve the healthcare industry.
Artificial intelligence (AI) streamlines data collection processes, which allows busy healthcare professionals to see more patients. Robots assist with more accurate surgeries and may be able to take patient vital signs and information. AI analyzes big data sets to develop statistics and conclusions that help medical professionals pinpoint accurate diagnosis and treatment options.
While the healthcare industry experiences challenges and issues, technology promises to help remedy these problems. With advancements in the technology used in the healthcare industry, healthcare professionals save time, money, and resources, leading to improvements in the field and in patients’ lives.
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