Ask anyone who has worked as a hospital administrator during the last two decades, and they’ll have a long list of reasons why their job has always been challenging. While running a hospital has never been easy, all signs point towards it becoming an even harder job. Whether you’re already in the healthcare field or are thinking about entering, let’s take a look at five different issues that will likely have a direct impact on you in one way or another:
The Need for Specialization
Traditional hospitals are facing a lot of competition from several different types of facilities, including diagnostic centers, outpatient surgery centers run by physicians and specialty hospitals. Since patients are demanding this type of specialized care, it’s up to hospital administrators to find the right type of strategy for their facility. That can mean figuring out what opportunities exist, as well as coming up with the right approach to capitalize on those opportunities. On top of that, hospitals have to be able to effectively communicate to potential patients exactly what they have to offer.
Numbers don’t lie, and they’re saying that there continues to be a shortage of qualified health professionals. Those professionals include surgeons, physicians, attendants, orderlies, nursing aids, home health aides, licensed vocational nurses and registered nurses. While the significant demand for these positions is good news for anyone who is in or entering one of those career paths, it doesn’t create an easy situation for hospitals. Because there’s constant competition for talent, administrators need to come up with creative solutions. Not only do they need to find ways to recruit and hire the right people, but they also have to ensure that they’re able to retain them. That’s generally done through a combination of raises, as well as quality of work incentives like providing monthly reimbursements for ongoing costs like purchasing new sets of scrubs. If any of these components of the staffing process are lacking, it’s going to negatively impact the hospital in a very big way.
Addressing the Changing Financial Landscape
Surveys show that there are 78 million members of the Baby Boomers generation. Because that’s a massive number, it has created a major spike in demand. And although that may sound like automatic good news for hospitals, the reality is the increased demand comes with its own new set of challenges. One of those challenges is responding to how hospitals actually receive payments. Instead of being paid in a model that’s based around fees for services, overall quality of care and outcomes are now being used to determine payments.
At first, it may seem like this type of compensation puts hospitals’ and patients’ interests in exact alignment with each other. However, what many people initially overlook is that hospitals can’t read the mind of patients. So while they may already be providing the absolute best quality of care, that doesn’t automatically guarantee that patients are 100% satisfied. In order to meet the higher bar that’s being set, hospitals have to invest significantly in researching exactly what potential patients want. This has led to everything from creating private rooms to creating an atmosphere for women’s imaging centers that resembles a spa.
Properly Handling Medicaid and Medicare
Although the economy has made a lot of progress since the lows of 2008, there are still plenty of Americans who are out of work. Additionally, there’s a huge number of people who fall into the underinsured category. The big challenge this creates for hospitals is finding the right balance between fiscal responsibility and providing care. This issue is only exacerbated by the fact that such a significant percentage of the population is getting older.
Every area of healthcare is being transformed by technology. But as you may have guessed, new technologies come with their own sets of challenges. While technology can help hospitals in many ways, they also have to find ways to deal with the different implications that these devices and breakthroughs may cause.
Even though the healthcare field has already gone through a lot of changes, all signs point towards this evolution continuing. And while hospitals already have their hands full with numerous challenges, only time will tell what else they’ll have to eventually face.
Nick Talley has been in the healthcare industry for the last thirteen years. Since he’s worked as both a nurse and administrator, he’s seen the challenges of this field from multiple views. His varied experience led to his current role as an independent consultant for hospitals.