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Post-Covid Problems: new Challenges arise within healthcare

Post-Covid Problems: new Challenges arise within healthcare
Authors
Sarah Johansson
12. Oktober 2023
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Frontline workers, Healthcare warriors, played a unique role during the previous pandemic crisis. Their sacrifices, resilience, and commitment have been widely acknowledged and celebrated. Through tireless shifts, personal risks, and emotional turmoil, they remained at the forefront, ensuring that medical care was available to those in need. Their stories of valor have filled news reports, social media, and hearts worldwide, reminding us of the indomitable human spirit.

However, beyond these tales of heroism lies a less-publicized narrative, one that is equally significant. Hospitals, the epicenters of this healthcare battle, have faced and continue to confront a slew of systemic challenges. These institutions, designed to be the bastions of health and recovery, found themselves at a crossroads, grappling with the weight of unparalleled demand and limited resources.

Public hospitals, traditionally serving the vast majority of populations, especially in lower-income areas, were stretched thin. Often underfunded and under-resourced, these institutions faced a magnified version of their pre-pandemic challenges. From bed shortages to inadequate medical equipment, the cracks in the system became glaringly evident.

Private hospitals, on the other hand, were not immune to the pandemic's pressures either. While typically better-equipped and staffed, they too faced obstacles. Financial strains from reduced elective procedures, adapting to evolving treatment protocols, and the emotional and physical toll on their staff are just a few examples.

Among others, there are 4 trends happening and becoming evident.

1. Less Outpatients and Inpatients

Immediately after the pandemic, a noticeable decline in outpatients and inpatients was evident. This decline was due to various reasons:

  1. Fear of Infection: Despite the safety protocols in place, many potential patients refrained from visiting hospitals for fear of getting infected.

  2. Deferred Medical Procedures: A considerable number of individuals postponed elective procedures and routine check-ups during the pandemic, leading to reduced examinations.

  3. Reliance on Telemedicine: Many turned to telemedicine solutions during lockdowns, which might have contributed to the long-term decline in physical visits to hospitals.

2. Scarcity of Medical Professionals

The pandemic's overwhelming pressure led to a massive drain on healthcare professionals, particularly doctors. As the workload increased, so did the burnout rates. In addition to the physical and emotional challenges, many healthcare workers contracted the virus themselves, further exacerbating the shortage.

Public hospitals, which are generally under-resourced, were hardest hit. However, even private hospitals, known for better resources and staff, faced significant challenges. These institutions found themselves grappling with an unprecedented demand for healthcare services while contending with a dwindling supply of skilled professionals.

3. Need for Financial Restructuring

The pandemic's financial impact on hospitals was profound. With fewer outpatients, elective surgeries, and inpatients, revenue streams dwindled. Additionally, resources had to be diverted to combat the pandemic, putting additional financial strain on these institutions.

A robust reform is necessary to ensure the survival and stability of these healthcare institutions. This would mean:

  • Diversifying Revenue Streams: Hospitals need to explore alternative revenue models, including expanding telemedicine services or offering specialized healthcare packages.

  • Government Support: Public hospitals, in particular, need substantial government support to continue offering services to the masses.

  • Innovative Financing Models: Private hospitals might consider partnering with financial institutions or exploring crowd-funding options for specific projects.

4. Preparedness for Future Pandemics

The world was unprepared for the scale and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the lessons learned, it's disheartening to acknowledge that the global healthcare system is not equipped for another large-scale health crisis.

To ensure better preparedness, a few steps are essential:

  • Global Collaboration: Countries need to work together, sharing resources, information, and best practices.

  • Investment in Research: Constant research into potential threats and their countermeasures is crucial.

  • Health Infrastructure Development: A focus on building robust healthcare infrastructure, including the training and welfare of medical professionals.

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