What will be the biggest challenge of healthcare in the next 10 years?

Forums Academic discussion Healthcare What will be the biggest challenge of healthcare in the next 10 years?

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    Veronica White

    Just curious what people are thinking that are going into the healthcare field. One of the largest problems I think healthcare will be the constant increasing costs of health care costs. What do you think?



    Honghan Ye

    Healthcare is a HUGE topic. One of the largest problems in my mind would be the real time resources allocation among patients, surgeons, nurses, operating rooms, hospital board, and even some governmental issues. It also relates to city locations if you consider the blood transfer. Anyway, the final goal obviously is to reduce the cost for patients, also improve the profits for hospital. Seem they are in conflict, but it is interesting to find the balanced point.

    David Sweetapple

    Increasing access, minimizing cost, and maximizing quality are probably the biggest concerns in the healthcare industry today. These three objectives are so difficult to achieve because of the tradeoffs between them. For example, simply lowering cost or increasing access would compromise quality of care. Like Honghan said, I think the biggest challenge will be to find the best way to balance these objectives or figure out a way to eliminate some of the tradeoffs between them.

    Adam Schmidt

    Along with the costs of healthcare, I think a huge challenge will be managing the complexity of operations and using the volume of information they are now collecting to improve care and operations in a organization wide effort to improve cohesion between departments.

    Wenjun Zhu

    As costs and resources are limited, choosing among strategies to handle one certain disease has always been a problem. Most of the models we have used to choose among the strategies are only about single intervention. I think in the future, there will be more models dealing with multiple strategies, as well as dynamic model which could better simulate disease transmission, community-based instead of hospital-based model which could capture synergistic effect of coordinate regional efforts to minimize disease transmission, and so on. Our method to handle healthcare related problems should develop with medical level at the same pace.

    Cindy Chen

    In the operation research area in healthcare, there has been a lot of articles and researches about cost-effectiveness model for strategies, medicine and treatments among different diseases. However, most of them are static. I feel like with the improvement of information technologies, more and more models of cost-effectiveness could be improved into dynamic ones which could be applied directly among short-term decision makings.

    Sarah Brennan

    I agree that cost is a huge problem but I also think the availability of doctors will decrease.  As the cost of higher education increases I could see fewer people wanting to put themselves in that amount of debt. There is also the insurance factor. Insurance companies tend to have a list of preferred doctor, which limits which doctor you can see and have it covered.

    Sumukh Ramesh

    Some interesting issues/concerns discussed in this thread. Here’s my two cents:

    I. Increase expectation of quality and pressure to perform in tight budget – Common for any business, but becoming more and more prevalent in healthcare. Companies are forced to perform on tighter budget. Gone are the days of performing randomized trials for years without no end goal. Companies want to maximize investment. On the flip side there’s also increase pressure to maintain high quality in healthcare delivery and customer satisfaction. People expect to get the best in class care and service when being treated. Healthcare organizations are now competing at a global level. I have come across articles where organizations have lost out on patients to healthcare facilities in other countries because the cost for care provided in the second country is at a fraction of the cost in first.
    ii. Higher education cost is impacting people getting into the medical sciences and be part of the profession long term.
    iii. Increased adoption of automation (surgical robots) and adaption of IoT in healthcare workflows will have a huge impact in healthcare. Infact I have come across articles that talk about adaption of RFID technology in healthcare sector for identification of medical equipment, inventory and improving patient care.

    Overall, interesting times in Healthcare sector.


    I think a big problem in healthcare is ensuring that the quality and quantity of care in rural areas, especially those in less developed countries, are being maintained. A really hard problem to tackle because of the lack of adequate infrastructure in these areas, not to mention the amount of collaboration it would require between many organizations in both the public and private sectors.


    It appears to me that there is an extremely detrimental gap between the insurance and care sides of the healthcare industry. Care providers are required to jump through hoops with paperwork, diagnosis phrasing, and “quotas” in efforts to appease insurance providers.

    One physician storied the following interaction with their clinic administrator. “Anyone with X, Y, and Z measurements must now be listed as a diabetic” professed the administrator. The physician had heard this many times with more and more constricted measurements; instead of replying they handed in their resignation. The administrator was commissioned by the insurance company to say, patients of certain blood sugar, pressure, etc. must now be listed as diabetic persons so they can be billed at higher rates. This makes sense from a transactional standpoint: fail to take care of your body, healthcare costs more for you. However, it does not take into account the medical justification for the cutoffs. Providers have become obedient to the insurance industry’s dictated standards for diabetes and now patients who are “near diabetic”, with an extremely high chance for recovery, are shoe-horned into the category of diabetic for monetary reasons and to improve the averages of key statistics (e.g. life expectancy) among the category of diabetic persons. The physician mentioned earlier found a clinic that still actively resists the insurance industry to the best of their ability, and this clinic chooses instead to focus on providing care.

    These industries are currently dysfunctional even beyond the gross medical inaccuracies described in the prior anecdote. Hospitals have to “sell” new programs and procedures to insurance providers before they can use them in a care setting. This adds to startup costs and with the power in the relationship totally on the side of the insurance providers, often creates losses for hospitals further discouraging innovation.

    Insurance providers and hospitals are often incompatible not only in process and bureaucracy but also in coverage. This causes national insurance providers to not be valid depending on the hospital people attend, and any travel or otherwise out of network incidents may not be covered by insurance at all.

    In the next ten years, especially with the domestic policy spotlight turning to “single-payer” and “public option” national healthcare systems, the healthcare and insurance industries may be forced to cooperate. This relationship will give rise to many structural inefficiencies and each small inefficiency leads to higher costs which, if we are not careful, may fall to patients and care providers.

    Jack Grahek

    Similar to what others have stated , rising healthcare costs will consume industry focus for many years, but I don’t think many healthcare facilities have the proper information technology infrastructure in place to properly control rising costs. To better understand the driving factors of rising costs, leaders in the industry need to find, collect, and analyze metrics up and down their organization to expose waste in all forms. The first step to lowering costs might include a short term steep investment in IT infrastructure, and that will be the biggest challenge healthcare professionals face in the next 10 years.

    Nick Lawrence

    Reply to Nicoletta Jasmine Sumarta of #4349:

    There are also a ton of factors that suggest rural-urban health disparities will only get worse. Rural hospitals are actually being abandoned because of high costs, making it even harder for rural citizens to get care. When we discuss improving healthcare infrastructure, I think we need to start with rural areas.



    I think besides the rising health care costs, another concern is the lack of nurses to take care of patients. Currently there is a nurse shortage so if there aren’t enough nurses working in hospitals, patients are not going to be given the proper care. In addition, the nurses who do work at the hospital have to suffer longer hours which effects the care they give to their patients. However, the appeal for nursing as a career is still prevalent, the only issue is that some nursing programs are competitive to get into such as UW’s nursing program which has an acceptance rate of 37.68%. Hopefully, nursing programs will grow and students will consider other options to get their degree such as going to smaller campuses or community college.

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