Leadership in Healthcare: Challenges and Opportunities
The healthcare sector is necessary for a society’s welfare. As a result, solid healthcare structures are looked at favorably and even defined as a developed nation’s hallmark. In the US, over 17% of the GDP comes from the healthcare sector, which stands proudly at $3 trillion. This staggering figure is made possible by expert healthcare leaders who spearhead it, especially during unprecedented times. However, healthcare leadership is no cakewalk and comes with many challenges and obstacles.
As a leader, you need to anticipate all kinds of healthcare-related crises such as shortage in staff, rising healthcare costs, and in 2019, the unforeseen pandemic. With the average patient spending over $10,000 making the US healthcare expenses grow by 10%, patients don’t respond well to hindrances in quality care. Unless a strategy is developed to navigate these hurdles, the healthcare sector will fail to cater to the growing population.
Alongside this, an undesirable situation facing healthcare organizations worldwide is the workforce gap caused by the pandemic. While it’s relatively easy to onboard and train mid-level workers, the scenario is different for top-level executive positions. Healthcare facilities are facing workforce shortages in areas such as nursing, health administrators, physicians, and so forth. To tackle this issue, healthcare organizations can train and develop their existing employee base to take over higher positions. For instance, they can offer executive masters in healthcare administration programs to workers willing to advance in the administrative function. Likewise, they can provide on-the-job training and workshops to upskill the workforce.
Now, let’s discuss other challenges facing healthcare leadership.
1. Developing Better Health Policies
Healthcare leaders need to develop better healthcare policies that include comprehensive patient care, workplace safety, and patient data protection. And this necessitates adapting hospital operations to insurance companies’ rising costs and premiums.
Healthcare is gradually becoming costly, with prices expected to rise from $12,000 per patient to $17,000 by 2028. While healthcare premiums may increase by 4.0%, with 90% of the population dependent on insurance, it can become harder to access healthcare. This environment requires a competent leader who can navigate such issues by drafting workable strategies.
2. Keeping Up with Technology
As a healthcare leader, technology is a substantial challenge you will face. With over 80% of healthcare executives looking to integrate technology into hospitals, you can’t avoid building technological infrastructure for your hospital. Medical technology ranges from specialized equipment such as robotic arms for surgeries and artificial intelligence to information systems like electronic health charts.
Advanced technology makes healthcare more personalized at the expense of the hospital budget. The equipment is costly, with additional money spent on maintenance and upkeep. In addition, you need to hire specialized workers who can operate the systems and arrange for your medical staff to get proper training. Therefore, it’s important that, along with your team, you also look into technology literacy and get comfortable evaluating machines. In this manner, you will purchase the right tools without going overboard.
3. Protection Against Cyberattacks
Healthcare has become digitized, with 75% of US hospitals using telehealth and 2.5% of the population scheduling appointments online. Patients need a safe route to store their information and make payments online. However, this has made data more sensitive and more prone to cyberattacks. While most hospital databases use a top-notch firewall and antivirus software, cybercriminals still manage to sneak in.
These attacks cost the healthcare sector over $5 trillion to recover from an unsolicited attack. What’s more, 15% of the malware, such as ransomware attacks, led to patients connected to other needless facilities. In comparison, 20% resulted in automatic cancellations in appointments. And this is concerning since it disrupts the healthcare system and prevents patients from meeting their healthcare needs.
4. Balancing Business and Patient Needs
While patients may have insurance, 3.8% of patients may not get coverage. While you need to balance business and healthcare as a healthcare leader, there is a grey area where both meet. So, you can ensure that healthcare practitioners provide patients with inexpensive and alternate treatment opportunities, making healthcare more accessible.
Patients should only get the tests they genuinely need and eschew more expensive ones, such as an X-ray instead of an MRI, whenever possible. While you can’t wholly discard expensive treatment routes and machines, you need to have the ability to recognize when a patient can get successfully treated inexpensively.
5. Developing Holistic Approaches
Healthcare is now more multi-dimensional than ever. Along with treating patients, you need to think of their long-term well-being. So, when a patient comes to the hospital, the staff should ensure that a patient’s mental, emotional, and environmental well-being are also addressed. In addition, it will help develop holistic programs that allow patients to get holistic treatment.
So, when a doctor and nurse are working with a patient, they can recommend therapies, support groups, and counseling to improve recovery chances. For example, a recovering cancer patient should get access to therapists and counselors to help them deal with mental health conditions that come with the disease. Unless you integrate holistic approaches, patients may find short-term relief but stumble and fall in the long run.
6. Lack Of Hospital Staff
The pandemic of 2019 emphasized the need for more medical staff. The staff turnover rate increased from less than 20% to over 30% in emergency wards, intensive care units, and nursing staff, and this trend is here to stay. The effects of coronavirus will not die down soon. With the emergence of new variants, you should expect more patients in the hospital.
Unfortunately, this surge in need for more staff is not easy to meet. It is a challenge for you to fill job vacancies with the right talent since over 80% of graduates are relatively new to the field. And this makes them underqualified to handle cases independently.
Therefore, you must understand how the labor market works and figure out how to acquire talent with the rising labor costs. As a healthcare leader, you need to step in and combat the uncertain healthcare crises, or else your staff may crumble under the workload.
Healthcare leaders are vital to the healthcare industry. They determine its trajectory and ensure people get the care they deserve. The position as a leader comes with numerous challenges. First, you need to develop better healthcare policies and understand the importance of technology, emphasizing cyber security to keep up with a digitized healthcare system.
In addition, you need to work on hospital care programs that address the patient’s short-term and long-term needs. The last challenge you will face is conquering the staff shortage, especially during troubling times. Armed with the proper knowledge, you should be able to rise above it all and make every day count.