The battle against the coronavirus is still ongoing, and unfortunately, despite all of the efforts to contain the virus, different COVID-19 variants are emerging all over the world today. With this global health crisis, hospitals and other healthcare facilities in every country are facing many challenges.
As experts learn and discover more about the virus, major health organizations continue to update health and safety protocols while government institutions actively implement guidelines and restrictions to mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
For more than a year since the pandemic started, we’re finally seeing a ray of hope as different types of vaccines are being developed and approved for use by the World Health Organization and other accrediting bodies.
In the US, the rapid rollout of vaccines has started so that more and more people can develop immunity to the virus and fight off illnesses and complications caused by it. In fact, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70 percent of adults in the country had at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.
However, even for fully vaccinated individuals, the risk of infection and reinfection is still out there. This is why improving the healthcare system efficiency is more important than ever.
Impact of COVID-19 on U.S. Healthcare System: Three Major Challenges
To make necessary and effective improvements, the first thing every leader of hospitals and other healthcare facilities has to think about is how to address major issues that disrupt the smooth flow of their operations. At present, there are three big challenges healthcare leaders should focus on and find solutions to:
Every health facility has a maximum number of licensed beds, so they can only accommodate a limited number of patients. However, with the rising number of COVID-19 cases nationwide, hospitals are reaching maximum capacity.
According to a report by CNN, the director of the National Institutes of Health predicted that there could be more than 200,000 new COVID-19 cases per day in the U.S. soon. This means that the need for hospitalization will go up, and if hospital beds won’t be freed up, infected individuals won’t be able to get immediate treatment. This can lead to a life-threatening situation if the person is suffering from severe COVID-19 symptoms.
Due to the sudden increase in demand for medical supplies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration identified shortages for critical supplies. Their report includes Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), surgical gowns, testing supplies, and ventilators.
Other items such as face masks, face shields, alcohol-based hand rubs, and sanitizers are also in demand. This shortage of supply is caused by the fact that not only healthcare workers and patients need it. The general population is also required to wear face masks and face shields when going outside to stay safe.
Today, doctors, nurses, hospital staff, and other healthcare workers are taking care not only of COVID-19 patients but also those who are suffering from other diseases. They’re working long hours while at risk of getting infected by the coronavirus. Due to this, many are showing signs of fatigue and psychological distress.
The increasing number of patients is overwhelming for the limited workforce in each health facility. This is why staffing is one of the top priorities to overcome this crisis.
Healthcare Technology and Its Role in COVID-19 Response
Technology plays a big role in the success of the COVID-19 response conducted by different organizations. The use of digital tools not only streamlines processes but also reduces the need for manual work.
With the power of automation, you can reduce the burden for your workforce and help improve their productivity. It can also improve patient experience because they can receive faster and more efficient service.
Learning about healthcare technology is crucial to hospital leaders as well as entrepreneurs who are looking into franchising opportunities in the healthcare industry. To give you an idea, here are six types of healthcare software that you can take into consideration:
- Medical practice management software
- Electronic health record (EHR) software
- E-prescribing software
- Hospital management software
- Urgent care apps
- Healthcare CRM
There are many providers of healthcare software on the market. To choose the one that fits your needs, it’s important to review the features included in each tool. Some examples of key features that you should look for are data management, patient scheduling, financial reporting, billing management, an online booking system, and chat or video capabilities.
Many healthcare facilities are using software as a service (SaaS) applications for real-time communication and easy access to data. To secure confidential information, make sure that your chosen software is compliant with privacy and data security regulations. It’s highly recommended to look for HIPAA-compliant software.
It’s no secret that the healthcare system in different parts of the world took a big hit when the coronavirus outbreak happened. Everyone is hoping for the end of this global health emergency, but to make that happen, it’s critical that healthcare facilities operate effectively.