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The United States Healthcare System

Introduction

The United States Healthcare system has been faced with numerous challenges over the years. Every administration that wins an election comes up with its policies regarding healthcare. However, various stakeholders, such as hospital administrators and even the patients, are not content with the current Healthcare environment. With the covid-19 pandemic, the US Healthcare system has been tested to its limits like any other healthcare system in the world. As a result, the country has ended up having the largest number of daily covid-19 infections and recording the highest number of deaths every day. The coming of covid-19 has exposed numerous weak points in the United States Healthcare framework. For instance, some states did not have enough ICU beds, while almost all the states did not have enough ventilators. This paper will discuss the current healthcare environment in the United States, highlight some recent changes in legislation, outline emerging healthcare trends and speculate on how these trends will shape the healthcare system in terms of managing health risks.

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The current healthcare environment in the United States from both the health care administrator and the patient perspective

Most developed nations boast of universal health systems. However, at this time, the US does not have a universal health program. As a result, healthcare is offered by a combination of both private and public health insurance coverage like Medicare and Medicaid. At present, the US healthcare system has been overwhelmed by the growing cases of covid-19, which have stretched it to its limits. The healthcare sector has suffered from states that did not have enough ICU beds to countless states that lacked ventilators and overworked healthcare workers. According to Tikkanen and Abrams (2020), the United States spends nearly as twice as the average OECD nation on healthcare as its GDP share. On the contrary, it has the highest suicide rates and the lowest life expectancy rates compared to the eleven OECD countries.

The US devotes more money to healthcare than any other nation

Healthcare spending
Figure 1: Healthcare spending (Source: (Tikkanen & Abrams, 2020))

The US has the lowest life expectancy

Life expectancy
Figure 2: Life expectancy (Source: (Tikkanen & Abrams, 2020))

The US has the highest suicide rates

Suicide rates
Figure 3: Suicide rates (Source: (Tikkanen & Abrams, 2020))

The work of hospital administrators is increasingly becoming more demanding and challenging. As the nation faces countless challenges in healthcare, hospital administrators have to prepare their staff to handle the demanding need for health, especially due to covid-19 disease. Healthcare administrators are forced to compete for healthcare professional opportunities, prepare for the future, and integrate new technologies into their work. Also, there is a shortage of healthcare professionals that administrators have to deal with every day. On the other hand, patients in the US have the right to quality, fast, and affordable healthcare. However, they are yet to receive quality healthcare as the US remains the hardest-hit nation by covid-19. Also, according to Tikkanen and Abrams (2020), the US lead to a number of chronic diseases, obesity rates, suicide rates, and a life expectancy below the OECD average.

Some recent legislation changes and how these changes influence how an administrator operates within the healthcare system

The year 2010 saw President Barack Obama sign the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was by far the most comprehensive healthcare framework to be passed to the law in a long time. The public has had massive support for the Obamacare policy, many pointing out that the policy has come to aid the poorest in American and has introduced equality in Americans’ medical access (Glied & Jackson, 2017). Obamacare’s main goal was to help in the redistribution of income by making healthcare more affordable, greater opportunity, and rewarding for most. Before the ACA, the number of uninsured persons was high. However, after the implementation of ACA, the rate of uninsured persons dropped from sixteen percent in 2010 to 9.1 percent in 2015 (McIntyre & Song, 2019). The opportunity for affordability has been more rewarding as the reduction of non-elderly unable to afford healthcare has dropped to 5.5 percent (McIntyre & Song, 2019). In addition, the expansion of Medicaid improved stability in the financials of the new insured as there had been a decrease of debt by an estimated $600-$1000 per person to the collection agency (McIntyre & Song, 2019). Americans were given the right and entitlement to a better set of healthcare services, which included maternity care and opportunity for mental health treatment, substance abuse, which were sometimes not included once in your coverage.

For a healthcare administrator, the US changes in healthcare legislation mean that the number of insured persons will grow exponentially. Thus, administrators will have to establish new ways and methods of providing high-quality care in spite of the financial limitations. In addition, HIPAA regulations require that health facilities become compliant with health IT practices. As a result, health administrators will be mandated to manage health digital systems and Electronic Health Records (EHR). Thus, it is becoming a necessity that healthcare administrators understand health IT and assistive technologies in order to be an asset as healthcare adopts various technologies.

Current emerging trends in healthcare

Technology is key to driving innovations in every sector of the economy. In particular, technology has remarkably transformed the way healthcare is administered and consumed. One significant innovation in healthcare is the use of mobile devices, commonly referred to as m-health. The technology uses portable devices such as smartphones and tablets and wearable information systems in healthcare. The features associated with m-health in the healthcare sector are the ease of use of smartphones and applications, the portability of these devices, connectivity, and accessibility (Steinhubl & Topol, 2015). As a result, healthcare administrators are able to monitor their patients remotely.

The use of m-health has many advantages for both healthcare administrators and patients. First, patients can use mobile apps to follow and adhere to their medications and treatment plans (Rowland & Powell, 2020). For example, a patient can have an app send them regular notifications that remind them what is expected of them. Second, the use of smartphones in healthcare improves post-treatment comprehension. The reason for this is that mobile technology gives both care providers and patients a means of monitoring and verifying prescriptions and discharge procedures. As a consequence, medication accuracy, a huge patient safety concern, is significantly improved. Lastly, m-health ensures that patients have the right information at any time and any place (Rowland & Powell, 2020). This is due to the fact that patients can easily access health information that was initially inaccessible. As a result, this health information helps better the interactions between patients and healthcare administrators.

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Using the current trends, speculate on the future of healthcare risk management from both the healthcare administrator and patient’s perspective

Technologies such as m-health will continue to impact the way healthcare is offered and the way patients consume it. Healthcare administrators look for ways that will ease their job and make it less demanding. At the same time, patients will be looking for fast, reliable, affordable, and high-quality healthcare. M-health benefits the patient as well as the physician. It has become a tool that allows patients to connect to the healthcare system using biometrics. With the use of wireless gadgets, the patient can upload their health information directly to a healthcare system and the physician. M-health, as well as other numerous technological innovations, will make healthcare more accessible in the future. Healthcare risk management will also be streamlined and achieved as administrators look to comply with standards and offer quality health services. In contrast, a patient’s need for fast, quality, and accessible health will be attained.

Conclusion

To sum up, the US health system faces numerous challenges as every regime tries to transform it. The country spends more than any other healthcare. Yet, it remains with the lowest life expectancy, the highest suicidal rates, the highest obesity rates, the highest rates of chronic diseases, and the worst affected nation by the covid-19 pandemic. It is difficult to justify the enormous spending on healthcare, yet many states had insufficient ICU beds and critical equipment like ventilators. The healthcare administrators remain overworked and under-staffed while patients receive low-quality services. Technologies such as mobile health have made it possible to connect the patient and the physician in the comfort of their own home. Hospitals and health facilities should leverage the use of technologies in order to offer their clients high-quality, affordable, and accessible healthcare services.

References

Glied, S., & Jackson, A. (2017). The Future of the Affordable Care Act and Insurance Coverage. American Journal of Public Health, 107(4), 538–540.

McIntyre, A., & Song, Z. (2019). The US Affordable Care Act: Reflections and directions at the close of a decade. PLOS Medicine, 16(2), e1002752.

Rowland, S. P., & Powell, J. (2020). What is the clinical value of mHealth for patients? Npj Digital Medicine, 3(1), 1–6.

Steinhubl, S. R., & Topol, E. J. (2015). The emerging field of mobile health. Science Translational Medicine, 7(283), 283rv3.

Tikkanen, R., & Abrams, M. K. (2020). U.S. Health Care from a Global Perspective, 2019: Higher Spending, Worse Outcomes?

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