There is no doubt that the healthcare system has had many disruptions and improvements in the past few years. When one analyses the system keenly, there are notable trends that have been happening in the health sector. Some of these trends deserve applause, while others bring forth a call to action. The trends looked at in this summary are cyber incidents, high-value care, and the utilization of mental health services. Looking into trends allows the stakeholders to understand the actual situations on the ground and the gaps that need to be filled. It also helps them know what is working, what is not, what should be changed, and any biases existing in the health system.
Technological Strides in the Health Industry
With a key adoption of technology in the healthcare system, patients have reported more improved and efficient care. There has been an increased use of telehealth services, especially during the COVID 19 lockdown, where patients were discouraged from leaving their homes if it is not an emergency. More AI systems have been developed to help diagnose different illnesses patients are suffering from, which in some cases has led to more accurate results. Almost every practice has a health records and practice management system. The increased use of technology has led to the collection of data that allows medical personnel to make more informed decisions when treating patients.
The Laxity in Data Security
As much as the strides made in digitizing the healthcare system are great, there has been significant laxity in ensuring there is data security in health care systems. HIPAA demands the security and privacy of health records as it calls for staff members in clinics to be assigned key roles in health systems so that each person only has access to the required information. It is clear that the healthcare industry is lagging in data security, making them a key target for data breaches (Kruse et al., 2017). Cybersecurity is now a critical part of patient care and should be taken more seriously by the stakeholders. There are now life-threatening attacks that go beyond stealing data, for example, attacks on medical implants that can lead to a patient’s demise. An attacker can change the frequency of certain nerve stimulations, and the patient dies. The implementation of data security policies in the healthcare system should be looked at more keenly.
For the most part, the health system’s model for patient care was volume-based. Hospitals and clinics were run with the thought of having more patients come in. Sometimes doctors are given targets hence making that their priority. The doctors end up becoming corrupt and say give patients less prescription so that they can come back sooner. Since studies have shown organizational culture affects the way physicians interact with patients, recommendations have been made that center around lowering costs and providing better individual care (Gupta et al., 2017). The provision of high-value care will help reduce the complications that result from patients receiving low-value care (Badgery-Parker et al., 2019). Some of the people that suffered the most from low-value care are those from marginalized communities. Having patient-centered care ensures the patient is treated as an individual and their attributes like culture and personal values are taken into account. This also helps doctors look into more preventive instead of reactive care.
Utilization of Mental Health Services
There has been much stigma around seeking mental health services for the longest time. Although many programs have been created that are keen to demystify mental health and lower the stigma, studies have shown that persons in the groups deemed to need mental health care the most rarely get it (Wu et al., 2017). This has led to services being created that are not being utilized to the capacity they are supposed to. However, research was done that followed different college students from 2007 to 2017 to document how many of them were using the mental health services provided, and the results showed that the trend was gradually increasing (Lipson et al., 2019). The research shows an increase in diagnosis and a reduction in stigma around mental health. Though this trend is pleasing, the system is not yet at a place where society can say the provision of mental healthcare to people of different demographics is satisfactory.
Impact of Coronavirus on the Utilization of Mental Health Services
The coronavirus pandemic has also affected the utilization of mental health services by causing fear; hence people are not as willing to seek care for their mental health. Considering many therapists could not see their patients, there has been a setback in the progress the patients were making and the action plans that had been created to increase accessibility. Many therapists resulted to telehealth, but this has not been accessible to persons in low-income communities. More outreach needs to be done to make sure that those in marginalized communities receive, even if it is through organized groups like churches.
In general, the utilization of mental health services, high-value care, and cyber incidents are just but a few of the current trends. Many of the negative trends seem to affect patients more than they affect other stakeholders. Maybe it is time to have a patient-centric health system. There should also be a keen interest in how the different trends affect people from different demographics so that certain people, especially those from marginalized communities, are not left out in the creation of policies for healthcare. Much more research needs to be done that looks into how the trends have changed through the pandemic.
Badgery-Parker, T., Pearson, S., Dunn, S., & Elshaug, A. (2019). Measuring hospital-acquired complications associated with low-value care. JAMA Internal Medicine, 179(4), 499.
Gupta, R., Moriates, C., Harrison, J. D., Valencia, V., Ong, M., Clarke, R., Steers, N., Hays, R. D., Braddock, C. H. & Wachter, R. (2017). Development of a high-value care culture survey: a modified Delphi process and psychometric evaluation. BMJ Quality & Safety, 26(6), 475-483.
Kruse, C., Frederick, B., Jacobson, T., & Monticone, D. (2017). Cybersecurity in healthcare: A systematic review of modern threats and trends. Technology And Health Care, 25(1), 1-10.
Lipson, S., Lattie, E., & Eisenberg, D. (2019). Increased rates of mental health service utilization by U.S. college students: 10-year population-level trends (2007–2017). Psychiatric Services, 70(1), 60-63.
Wu, I., Bathje, G., Kalibatseva, Z., Sung, D., Leong, F., & Collins-Eaglin, J. (2017). Stigma, mental health, and counseling service use: A person-centered approach to mental health stigma profiles. Psychological Services, 14(4), 490-501.