The healthcare sector faced a slew of challenges and struggles in the past few years with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and other health threats. Professionals had to deal with staff shortages, cybersecurity threats, and communication issues. Later, variants and other viruses like monkeypox began infecting the public, further affecting hospitals and care facilities. To continue providing optimal care, organizations must look to innovative solutions to solve the challenges impacting their efficacy and efficiency. Below are a few of the issues the industry is currently facing and how they can be addressed:
The healthcare staff shortage was a problem before and after the pandemic, and if improvements aren’t made, this issue is set to become increasingly urgent. By 2034, the US could face a staff shortage of 124,000 physicians and 48,000 primary care physicians. Many professionals shifted to higher-paying roles or left the industry due to burnout as the healthcare crises worsened.
To ease the care burden, more hospitals are employing assistive technology and robotics. A well-known robot used in Singapore’s Changi General Hospital is the da Vinci Surgical System, which assists surgeons with minimally invasive surgeries. They also aid professionals by doing smaller jobs, such as delivering linen and food, maintaining cleanliness, assisting patients, and more. Similarly, automation allows menial tasks that would typically be presided over by staff to be handled through technology, allowing patients more control and professionals to focus on more important work. This tech alleviates the burden on healthcare workers who are already dealing with a lot on their plates.
Cyberattacks and breaches
As technology becomes more involved with healthcare, protecting patient data recorded electronically is needed now more than ever. However, the industry experienced a rise in cyberattacks, with the breaches affecting up to 45 million in 2021, an alarming leap from 14 million in 2018. Other than patients’ health information, sensitive data like credit card details or bank account numbers can be accessed by cybercriminals.
Though technological advancements can pose a risk to data, they can also be a viable solution for breaches and attacks. The interest in blockchain technology in healthcare is growing, and it can be vital for protecting patient data. Its decentralized nature removes third parties and makes accessing records easier and safer for professionals and patients. Companies such as Patientory, BurstIQ, and more began offering software and services that aggregate information onto a blockchain to encrypt the data and keep it safe from prying eyes and bad actors. Training staff on cybersecurity, implementing multi-factor authentication, and simply changing passwords on devices can help mitigate the occurrence of cyberattacks.
Not properly communicating with other staff and patients can be costly and even deadly. Antiquated communication technology, such as pagers, can delay patient care, or lack of mobile technology prevents staff from accessing and updating records and information immediately. The relationship between communication satisfaction and patient safety is directly proportional; when one aspect is poor, the same goes for the other. Healthcare organizations must streamline communication for more effective care.
Healthcare organizations can invest in more mobile technology, such as smartphone-based tech, to quickly administer care, especially for urgent cases. One study showed how smartphone alerts could be beneficial for responding to in-hospital cardiac arrests. These notifications cut a minute off code team activation, which took 78 seconds on average using conventional methods. Other than using updated technology, simple solutions such as regular staff meetings and more thorough discussions with patients can reduce errors and improve care.
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