3 Top Healthcare Challenges to Address in 2020

By: Rahul Kumar on June 12, 2020

It’s 2020—the start of a new decade and yet another year of healthcare challenges to be addressed. Healthcare providers across the globe will continue struggling with challenges of the past as well as try coping with new ones that emerge. So, it’s critical that healthcare providers are aware of their technology requirements to overcome these challenges and stay in business.

Every year, the Healthcare Executive Group (HCEG), in partnership with Change Healthcare, conducts a survey to identify the top ten issues faced by healthcare providers in the U.S. In this article, we’ll discuss the top three challenges—from the ten identified by HCEG for 2020—along with ways to address them.

Challenge #1: Reducing healthcare costs and improving the quality of care

Healthcare costs are rising at a fast pace in the U.S. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the country’s national health spending is projected to increase at an average annual rate of almost 5.4% over 2019–2028 and reach $6.2 trillion by 2028. This can be attributed to the impact of several factors, such as a growing population and shift in government policies.

Here’s how the HCEG defines its top healthcare challenge of 2020:

#1. Costs and transparency: Implementing strategies and tactics to address growth of medical and pharmaceutical costs and impacts to access and quality of care. (Source)

Physicians need to buy or upgrade technology on a continuous basis to provide quality care to their patients as well as stay competitive. However, due to rising costs, lesser numbers of patients are visiting clinics, and physicians are registering low revenue growth. Implementing some cost-saving initiatives can help in such scenarios.

What should I do? Try out the below options to save costs and avoid passing them on to your patients.

  • Ensure that the electronic medical records (EMR) software you’re using has only relevant features. Assess the requirements of your practice and select software features accordingly. Software with features that aren’t being used every day can cost you a higher subscription or license fee. Look for vendors that allow you the freedom to choose and customize software modules and features as per your requirements.

  • Try out free and open source EMR software solutions to avoid the large upfront costs involved in licensed software or the monthly subscription of cloud-based software.

  • If you have a large office space for your medical practice, try renting out some space to another medical professional. You can also rent out some space to a pharmacy.

  • Consider cutting down on any extra office supplies. For instance, avoid having too many health magazines or newspapers in the patient waiting room.

Challenge #2: Implementing ways to enhance the overall patient experience and comfort

As per a 2019 survey of 136 professionals at U.S. hospitals and health systems, fewer than one in three participants believe that their organization is offering a best-in-class digital experience to patients. The report also states that the digital health tools and health system apps used by medical practices aren’t able to keep up with patient expectations, with fewer than 1 in 3 respondents believing that their tool offers the best possible consumer digital experience.

The HCEG defines its second greatest healthcare challenge in 2020 as:

#2. Consumer experience: Understanding, addressing, and assuring that all consumer interactions and outcomes are easy, convenient, timely, streamlined, and cohesive so that health fits naturally into the “life flow” of every individual’s, family’s, and community’s daily activities. (Source)

Medical practices are striving to enhance the overall patient experience and comfort by providing high-quality care through various digital methods, such as remote care, patient portals, and self-check-in kiosks. A positive patient experience helps strengthen the relationship with patients and results in better patient compliance, early detection of diseases, and thus improved clinical outcomes.

What should I do? Try out the below options to enhance your overall patients’ experience and comfort.

  • Offer telemedicine services, which allow you to use technology to diagnose and treat patients remotely. These services not only eliminate travel time and minimize the risk of exposure for patients but also reduce expenses (patient care, equipment, transport, etc.) for healthcare providers. Our 2020 patient experience survey reveals that 84% of patients would choose a healthcare provider that offers telemedicine services.

  • Deploy AI-based technologies in your practice to enhance the patient experience. Around 31% of respondents in our 2020 survey said that they have interacted with AI-powered chatbots and virtual nurses on their healthcare providers’ websites to get answers to their questions. Such interactions are convenient for patients and time-saving for providers.

  • Use patient portal software to allow your patients access to their healthcare information. Patients can ask questions, check lab results, request prescription refills, and update insurance details, among others.Deploy patient scheduling software to streamline the scheduling process. Patients can check physician availability and select from available appointment slots. They can also fill in and submit intake forms online. This will not only enhance the patient experience but also help minimize the number of patient no-shows or cancellations.

  • Train your staff well so that they know what exactly to do. Ensure each staff member understands his/her role and how it impacts the overall patient experience.

Challenge #3: Enhancing collaboration with community-based organizations

Health is largely determined by what happens outside the walls of hospitals. Several social factors, such as the availability of food, unemployment, and exposure to violence, contribute to the overall well-being and average life expectancy of individuals. Healthcare providers play an important role in community well-being. They must partner with community-based organizations to address social determinants of health and make medical and non-medical services accessible to all communities.

The HCEG defines its third greatest healthcare challenge in 2020 as:

#3. Delivery system transformation: Operationalizing and scaling coordination and delivery system transformation of medical and non-medical services via partnerships and collaborations between healthcare and community-based organizations to overcome barriers including social determinants of health to effect better outcomes. (Source)

Effective community healthcare partnerships are required to deliver medical services across communities. Healthcare providers can enroll in Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) programs that allow participating states to pay incentives to providers that invest in the state’s delivery system reform goals. Good news is that technology can enable providers to implement delivery system transformation as a means of lowering costs, enhancing the patient experience, and improving population health.

What should I do? Try out the below options to enhance collaboration and partner with community-based organizations.

  • Deploy community health systems EHR to streamline operations and provide quality care to patients.

  • Promote community hiring to reduce barriers to employment, such as gaps in education or long-term unemployment.

  • Partner with civic organizations, social service agencies, and educational leaders to inform communities about healthcare benefits and the support provided by state institutions.

Begin addressing these challenges now

While making decisions in 2020, healthcare providers must take into account the challenges discussed above. They must map patients’ requirements and preferences before implementing any process change or new technology.

Providers that take action now to address these challenges will smoothly sail through 2020 as well as the years to come. And using technology is the only way forward. Select technology solutions (EMR, telemedicine, patient portal, patient scheduling, etc.) that cater to your needs. You can self-evaluate your right fit by reading buyer reviews.

If you need help with software selection, reach out to our advisors. They provide free, fast, and personalized recommendations, helping medical practices of all sizes find software that meets their needs. Schedule an appointment with an advisor here.