Despite all the technological marvels that the healthcare industry has benefitted from in recent years, the fact is that hospitals face a challenging environment. From compliance with ever-changing government regulations to coping with value-based reimbursements, the list of problems grows everyday.
Healthcare c-suite executives must figure out ways of rising above these challenges to achieve better care delivery and financial results. In the sections below, we’ll discuss an overview of current problems in surgery.
Current Issues & Problems in Surgery
1. Economics (stagnating revenues + rising costs)
According to a Deloitte study, healthcare CEOs believe improving financial performance and operating margins is one of their top concerns. Investments in clinical innovation and public health initiatives has accelerated costs sharply, leading to declining margins. Plus, increasing competition means patients can often shop around in search of a cheaper healthcare provider.
In the midst of all that there are high administrative costs to contend with, too. The national hospital administrative cost in the US is $248 billion annually. Streamlining healthcare delivery can help to cut down overhead and operational costs, but that’s not as easy as it sounds.
For starters, many institutions don’t like the new instituted payment models by insurers. With the financial incentives now hinging on patient outcomes and not service quantities, most establishments are finding it hard to increase profits year over year.
2. Privacy & EHR issues
Electronic health records (EHR) contain an immense amount of customer information and data which leads to privacy and security concerns. Plus, they’re set up in a manner that allows multiple healthcare providers to access them across a shared network.
Compounding the problem is that EHRs often incorporate lax security protocols. For example, in 2017 the US health care sector suffered more than 470 data breaches with up to 4.93 million exposed patient records.
It’s the responsibility of the hospital leadership to ensure that there are sturdy measures in place for confidentiality and data protection. The process of access authentication and authorization on the EHR, plus other cybersecurity strategies require requisite investments in IT platforms.
3. Patient experience
The insurance landscape has changed, too. Patient outcomes are far more important as insurance payouts aren’t just dependent on the volume of patients served.
Patients demand streamlined services and better diagnosis, care and treatment to minimize the risk of surgery problems. The process of achieving that includes digitization to optimize services, adoption of medical technology to improve diagnostic and treatment accuracy, and increasing the nurse to patient ratio.
In the right environment, there would be sufficient nurse staffing to facilitate follow-ups to address problems that occur after surgery, such as:
- Side effects from general anesthesia, such as nausea and vomiting
- Sore throat caused by the tube placed in the windpipe during surgery
- Soreness and pain around the site of surgery
- Confusion and chills caused by the body’s reaction to anesthesia
- Preventing the risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism after surgery
- Guidance on medication to prevent wound infection
- Assistance on how to avoid blood clots in the following days after surgery by leg elevations, for instance, to improve blood flow
- The need for deep breathing for proper lung health after the procedure
4. Big data
The plethora of imaging devices and other smart tech equipment installed in the OR means there’s more surgical data than ever before. And that’s not the only source – information generated from patient records and insurance details adds to it. It’s of prime importance for healthcare providers to efficiently harvest this data, store it, and make use of it.
Healthcare leadership needs to switch to data-driven decision making in order to maximize efficiency and cost-saving opportunities. The data can help to enhance the patient experience, minimize surgical problems, and hospital liability claims.
Adoption of the latest medical technologies and equipment is necessary for superior medical delivery, but entails multiple challenges too. For example, a hybrid OR costs about $4 million to put together which isn’t great if you’re in cost-cutting mode.
At the same time, new medical devices and technology are designed to improve efficiency. They make it possible to carry out minimally-invasive or non-invasive procedures and can prevent risks such as excessive blood loss at the wound site, which would lead to shock.
Most hospitals often purchase new medical equipment through large orders. That leads to a “crowding-out effect” because only bigger players can purchase at that volume and benefit from lower prices.
The costs of the medical equipment are one thing, but fitting them into the existing hospital layout is another factor. The efficiency of these devices depends on the location where they are installed. The medical gear needs extra space in the OR, and sometimes that takes costly renovation.
Current issues in surgery are mostly about costs and performance impact factors. The best hospital leaders can tackle these problems to improve efficiency and patient safety.