Here are the top challenges facing the healthcare industry right now

Here are the top challenges facing the healthcare industry right now

The healthcare industry is facing some serious challenges this year. In 2019, we’ve seen an escalation in the opioid crisis, the manifestation of a national mental health epidemic, electronic health data breaches, and a rapidly aging population. These pose dangerous threats to the wellbeing of our nation.

The next decade will be defined by how we respond to these healthcare challenges. I want to talk about them individually.

Opioid Crisis & Mental Health Epidemic

Our nation is hooked on drugs. This is an emergency with catastrophic implications. It is a sign of deeper problems in our society; a symptom of the hitherto undetected mental health epidemic.

Studies show that 1 in 5, or 47 million adults, in the US suffered from a mental health illness in 2018.

Doctors, nurses and other allied health professionals are not exempted from being victims of this crisis. In fact, they are extremely susceptible because of the nature of their jobs. The stress and pressure they encounter every day as they carry out their responsibilities can lead them to experience depression, anxiety, and stress that can lead to full-blown mental illness.

Healthcare HR teams must come up with ways to help healthcare personnel strike a balance between work and life. They have to work with psychologists, psychiatrists and other healthcare specialists to create regular mental health training activities to help all healthcare personnel deal with personal and professional mental health challenges.

Healthcare Data breaches

In 2018, there were about 503 health data breaches that compromised up to 15 million patient files. But July 2019, that number was dwarfed by reports of up to 25 million hacked patient records. That’s just a period of 7 months and the previous year’s record was surpassed.

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This problem is expected to take center stage as more and more companies push for the adoption of e-health technologies such as telehealth, telesurgery, e-prescription, and others.

Technology is moving at such lightning speed that even lawmakers are unable to catch up with innovations in time. As the integration of artificial intelligence in healthcare service delivery is accelerated, we expect more and more healthcare institutions to begin using eHealth technology and thus making themselves prime targets for cybercrime groups.

eHealth presents two challenges to healthcare HR teams in 2020 and beyond:

  1. Preparing personnel for jobs that will be replaced by software and robots.
  2. Creating guidelines and training personnel on online health data safety and best practices. Healthcare personnel is the weakest link in the health data security chain, and this weakness is often exploited by criminals.

A rapidly-aging population

For the first time in American history, 2030 is going to be the year older people outnumber children. By 2034, there will be 77 million people above 65, compared to 76.5 million below 18. This is a major turning point.

The age of the population is directly connected to economic growth and the burden on healthcare service delivery. The ratio between dependent older Americans and working-age adults is expected to increase. This will increase the demand for healthcare services.

Why should this worry about healthcare HR teams? It’s exactly the same period during which there is a projected massive shortage of doctors all across the US.

How can healthcare institutions prepare for the coming crisis? Embrace eHealth solutions as early as now. Go through the teething problems of provisioning and operating eHealth tools and software as early as now. Launch telehealth services and digitize as many services as possible so that your limited manpower can cater to larger patient loads.

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The 2030s are around the corner. The best time to prepare is now.

Looking beyond 2020

The coming decade is going to be filled with a lot of changes and innovations. The stage jas been set.

Environmental challenges being faced worldwide will pose a great challenge to governments and economies worldwide. Climate change is a serious public health risk and as the population increases, more and more of the older folk are likely to suffer from the effects of global warming such as heatwaves which lead to strokes.

Technology companies and healthcare providers must unite to combat the effects of climate change on our aging population. Healthcare innovation stands to benefit the most from the drive to clean up and protect our environment because health and wellbeing are the primary focus of all environmental protection campaigns.

Conclusion

2020 to 2030 doesn’t look like the best decade we’ll have yet, but thankfully, we have all the tools we need to face it and get through it.

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