Out of all the countries in the world, the United States spends the most on the healthcare of its people. This includes private as well as public spending on healthcare. The latter includes care of all those people who have health insurance and whose medical bills are taken care of by the United States government. However public healthcare is not without its problems. It faces challenges in many spheres of operations, the most important of which are financial challenges, quality and safety of patients, and taking care of the uninsured. Amongst other problems facing the healthcare industry are labor shortfalls, maintaining good relationships between doctors and the management, customer (or patient) satisfaction, government rules and regulations, productive capacity, availability of technology and so on. Another important challenge for hospitals is to be prepared for any unforeseen disasters that might lead to an influx of patients as was the case on 9/11 (ACHE team, 2008).
Financial problems are the most prominent issue with healthcare in the United States. In a survey carried out by the ACHE (American College of Healthcare Executives) in 2008, 77% of the respondents ranked financial crisis as one of the top three problems faced by healthcare organizations today. The recent recession has worsened this problem as hospitals have had to deal with defaults on loans, increasing costs of materials and labor, difficulty in acquiring loans for reinvestment and in managing other expenditures (ACHE team, 2008).
Safety of patients and Quality of service
This is the second most important concern of hospital CEOs. 43% of the respondents in the ACHE survey ranked quality and safety as the second largest issue facing healthcare organizations. This is because lack of safety or quality will cancel out the basic purpose of the healthcare organization. Efforts are being made nowadays to improve the quality and safety provided to patients. Within this challenge, healthcare management is focusing on redesigning the processes so as to make them safer, increasing the quality of the processes so as to meet international standards, enhancing motivation and training for hospital staff to ensure better performance from them, and minimizing errors (ACHE team, 2008).
Care for the Uninsured
Data reveals that there are still many people in the United States who do not have access to health insurance. According to the survey conducted by the ACHE, 41% of the respondents believe this to be a major problem in the healthcare industry (ACHE team, 2008). It is the hospital management’s duty to reach out to all these people and get them insured. The reason why this is so important is that uninsured people are usually unable to pay their hospital bills. Hospital bills can be so high that at times even those who are insured are unable to pay the desired amount. 60% of the time this has led to bankruptcy (Zieger, 2009).
The main aim of the American government is to enhance the quality and access of medical assistance to its senior citizens, whether insured or uninsured (Edwards, 2009). Hospital CEOs must focus on improving financial management, and should take steps to enhance the quality of their service and safety of processes. Moreover, the healthcare industry in the United States must look into providing healthcare to those who are uninsured.
- Byrd, W. & Clayton, L. An American Health Dilemma: Race, medicine, and health care in the United States 1900-2000. Published by Routledge. (2002).
- Hackler, C. Health care for an aging population. Published by SUNY Press. (1994)
A Magazine or Newspaper Article
Edwards, J. “Medicare Rx Grows as a Hit with Seniors.” Healthcare: News and Information. Volume 16, No. 15. (May 8th, 2009)
A Web Page
- ACHE Team. “Top Issues Confronting Hospitals: 2008” American College of Healthcare Executives. Web.
- Zieger, A. “Study: 60 percent of personal bankruptcies fueled by medical bills”. Fierce Healthcare.