Medical and technological innovations, as well as changes in health care policy, have produced radical advancements in the delivery of health care services. Notwithstanding these robust improvements, health care leaders are hard-pressed to find solutions to complex challenges which the US health care system is going to face. Over the next decade, health care facilities will encounter a plethora of issues, which are associated with the government funding, quality of care, and technical considerations relative to the use of an electronic health record.
According to the National Institutes of Health (2016), currently, 8,5% of people worldwide are 65 and older. Because of the steady aging of the population which brings an increase in the prevalence of chronic diseases, more people are going to need medical care (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). As a result, it may be expected that health care costs will rise dramatically in the next decade.
One may assume that due to population aging and hence a growing number of beneficiaries, government spending on Medicare will increase in the future. It is no wonder that the costs of health insurance premiums will rise. This, in turn, will make health care less affordable for low-income people and perhaps some middle-income people. To address this challenge, the reduction of the benefits for higher-income retirees should be considered (Elmendorf, 2016). However, benefits in healthcare programs should not be cut for economically disadvantaged people since this may lead to inadequate retirement income for them.
One more challenge that US healthcare may face in the future is associated with an increase in the nursing shortage. It is considered that effective patient-oriented care is inconceivable without qualified personnel. However, because of the aging of the population, the demand for registered nurses will become even more acute. Therefore, it may be expected that the nursing shortage will be an urgent problem with severe effects on health care. In particular, nursing turnover may lead to an increase in hospital-related mortality, failure to rescue, poor quality of care, and work stress and burnout among nurses. The solution to this problem is supposed to be rather costly, as health policy will have to consider increasing salaries for nurses, as well as investing in nursing education.
With the proliferation of Electronic Health Record systems, the lack of standardization may become a serious challenge. Currently, there is no unified government standard establishing the design of the EHR and the Computer-Based Oral Health Record. Therefore, health care facilities implement EHR using different data models. As a result, it may be expected that the facilitation of interoperability and care sharing among health care establishments will be limited.
The lack of standardization in health information technology may lead to an increase in healthcare costs up to 20% of the US GDP (Hussain, Rivers, Stewart, & Munchus, 2015). One may assume that a feasible solution to this challenge may be an establishment of a unified set of technical standards governing the content and logical structure of an EHR.
In summary, the fact that people live longer does not necessarily mean that they will live healthier due to a number of challenges which the US health care system will face in the future. Firstly, due to an increase in treatment costs, health care is likely to become less affordable for low- and middle-income people. Secondly, the global nursing shortage will not only adversely affect the quality of care but also contribute to professional stress and burnout of nurses. Thirdly, the lack of standardization of the EHR is expected to hinder the health information exchange among health care facilities, as well as the quality and safety of health care services. The severity of the above-mentioned challenges highlights that they should be effectively addressed by health care leaders.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Healthy aging: Promoting well-being in older adults. Web.
Elmendorf, D. (2016). Recommendations for federal fiscal policy. Harvard Kennedy School. Web.
Hussain, A., Rivers, P., Stewart, L., & Munchus, G. (2015). Health information exchange: Current challenges and impediments to implementing national health information infrastructure. The Journal of Health Care Finance, 42(1), 1-7.
National Institutes of Health. (2016). World’s older population grows dramatically. Web.