It is well to be noted that in the past, healthcare investments in emerging economies have focused on a system wherein individuals seek medical attention at hospitals after they fall ill. This approach does not happen to be economically sustainable and, in a way, does not adequately offer people timely access. In order to effectively tackle healthcare needs and, at the same time, medical emergencies of the future, health systems must look into making necessary adjustments to their care delivery methods. So as to reduce costs, enhance accessibility, and also address the declining number of healthcare professionals in the public and private sectors, health sectors must shift their focus from large, centralized facilities to community-based healthcare as well as digital technology.
Apparently, the delivery of healthcare is confronted with three main challenges.
Healthcare systems across the world, especially across economies that are emerging, need to prioritize elevating efficiency. Numerous governments have gone on to execute universal healthcare coverage as a means to take care of their commitment towards achieving sustainable development goals when it comes to health. Consequently, this has led to an unprecedented rise in the demand for health services. Simultaneously, governments have also gone on to face significant financial challenges because of the burdens that have been imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, reducing costs is of utmost importance.
The second challenge comes from the dearth in the number of healthcare professionals. There is a shortage of physicians, specialists, nurses, support staff, as well as technicians, and many of them are leaving for better-paid opportunities in markets that are already established. Although this trend was already present prior to the pandemic, it has since aggravated.
Local medical schools would go on to require many years to expand their pipelines adequately so as to meet the growing demand for new staff. As a result, healthcare systems must thrust on technology in order to optimize care delivery and, at the same time, enhance productivity.
The third trend is being driven by the needs of patients. The growing incidence of cancer and other non-communicable diseases, the possibility of future pandemics, and the need for universal healthcare coverage all boil down to having a proactive approach to diagnostics. Additionally, a more complete and interconnected approach is required that spans screening, treatment, and post-treatment care. It is indeed significant for stakeholders to go ahead with a decentralized, integrated care delivery model that offers diagnostics as well as treatments at certain levels of care rather than just consolidating all services in a single location.
So as to address all these pressures, healthcare decision-makers should go ahead with adopting a range of best practices.
It is well to be noted that intelligent automation has the capacity to handle various routine tasks, such as restocking pharmacy shelves and delivering meals to hospital beds. AI and the digitalization of data collection as well as service delivery in diagnostics should be utilized to gather data about the need for care and also to monitor its impact.
The most prominent changes should take place in the ecosystem itself. The healthcare system should shift its focus from the traditional centralized hospital model and move towards a patient-centric, community-based approach. Instead of absolutely relying on large, complex medical centers, it is important to offer people with access to local clinics that provide a combination of in-person as well as online services. These clinics can help with online diagnostics, as well as care and information, conveniently and promptly, thereby catering to the specific needs of individuals.
In many emerging markets, patients often face limited availability of timely early-stage diagnostics as well as preventative care. Consequently, when they seek treatment at acute care hospitals, their conditions happen to be already severe, thereby leading to unfavorable outcomes and significantly more treatment expenditure.
Health systems as well as investors must look into enhancing the availability as well as the quality of primary care, as this can effectively dip the demand for acute hospital care.
By executing this, acute care hospitals, which may have previously needed 600 beds, may now only require 200 beds. This will effectively lessen the costs for both providers and patients, while at the same time enabling the healthcare workforce to focus on delivering optimal care.
These transitions, apparently in healthcare staffing, will have a significant impact. Because of the integration of online services, primary care physicians will go on to have the opportunity to see a larger number of patients, and nurse practitioners will be able to expand their role when it comes to providing essential care. When technology is executed in the right manner, it can greatly assist patients and also health facilities in navigating illnesses and also promoting healthy lifestyles with greater ease and also efficiency.
The transition will obviously involve upfront costs. Achieving a more integrated health system and also improving access to technologies will need a substantial investment.
Additionally, governments that go on to provide funding for broadband as well as other IT infrastructure will witness the positive impact it has on various other sectors of the economy, fostering further innovation.
Hospitals might experience a dip in revenues initially if they are no longer the main facility for treating common illnesses. But as they become more efficient, it is likely that their profitability will increase with time.
The collaborative economy
Emerging economies have a benefit in making the technical transition since their health system infrastructures are still coming up. The execution of the new system will enable the development of collaboration as well as mutual trust, which are often not found in many healthcare systems currently.
Given the rising number of patients who go on to receive treatment outside of hospitals, healthcare systems can no longer be dependent solely on traditional hierarchical patterns. To ensure a smooth and reliable transition of care as patients shift between different points of treatment, it is imperative for healthcare providers to instill a collective sense of trust and ownership.