The spread of novel coronavirus was one of the most catastrophic events in history. The pandemic has not only affected health across the globe but has spawned crises revealing all the limitations of the world healthcare system. However, the pandemic has signaled the need for reforms and leveraging technology with healthcare testing services to improve our ability to deal with such noxious events in the future.
But before we proceed to the idea of healthcare reforms and improving the situation by overcoming possible implications of the pandemic on the healthcare system, it is necessary to understand the point of failures that lead to panic in the United States as well as various other parts of the world.
The first and most devastating sequel of the pandemic on the failure of healthcare systems was seen with Insurance coverage. The sudden unemployment of more than 20 million people made them lose their insurance sponsored by their employers. Moreover, the financial burden on employers pushed around 31 million people to be uninsured while leaving 40 million-plus underinsured even before the pandemic bashed.
Financial Downtime of Healthcare Providers
The next immediate thing that affected the healthcare system was the poor financial condition of the healthcare providers, especially the rural care, primary care practices, and safety-net providers. Moreover, the sudden outburst of COVID-19 cases in the States made an unprecedented burden on these healthcare providers making the situation worse even for the specialized acute care. The overtaxed hospitals and unexpected costs imposed on healthcare disturbed the provider’s revenue leading to healthcare redundancy for the general public.
According to the research and article in Annals of Epidemiology by Gregorio Millett and colleagues, 20 percent of the cases and 22 percent of deaths due to COVID-19 were Black community even when they are as little as 13 percent of the total US population. Not only this, with 20 percent of US counties having scattered Black populations, more than 50 percent of the cases and 60 percent of deaths nationally were all Black. In short, the sudden spread of the pandemic brought the long-standing racial and ethnic differences of the healthcare system at the front. The situation even relates to the failure of insuring people based on their ethnicity or involvement in jobs that have poor or no access to healthcare facilities.
Putting it out in the easiest forms, the healthcare system ultimately failed at preventing the spread of the pandemic. The lack of testing resources, lack of policy reforms, inadequate leadership, and many other reasons caused more damage than expected. Therefore, it would be nothing wrong to say that it was all a failure that happened due to no national public health information system in place, leading to no demand tracking and resource supply planning. The missing sync within the healthcare system left no way to track areas with surplus supplies and those undersupplied, showcasing the lack of functionality within the national health system.
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Healthcare System Improvements in the US during COVID
Federal Policy Reforms
The spread of COVID-19 was a major trauma to the Nation, which not only underlined the flaws of the healthcare system but opened the doors for significant reforms. With healthcare seeming clearly deficient, the current situation has put the Federal Leadership at the front. Some of the possible improvements that these reforms could bring include defraying the expenses associated with health care, changes in the Medicare plans, and of course, ideas that could cut the economic dislocations.
Insurance Coverage Expansion
Over the years, the Government of the United States has been debating over the ever-increasing cost of healthcare. Though there are reforms made in overcoming the cost of illness, the pandemic has pushed the urge to expand the coverage. The transformation in the insurance reforms could even make Federal Government absorb all the costs of expanding Medicaid, which the State Governments could adapt further.
Securing Healthcare Finances
The current financial arrangements in the Healthcare sector are not so good. Even if certain facilities look overcompensated and could easily manage the loss inflicted due to COVID-19, a significant portion of hospitals and health services is still vulnerable. However, the current circumstances could make the US government plan for reforms that could preserve the essential health services against financial downtime. There can also be reforms that can offer a predictable revenue stream to the healthcare providers while ensuring the adequate availability of essential services that must sustain in the future.
Reforms for Racial/Ethnic Disparities
Since the pandemic has paved the way for reforms across the healthcare system and other essential services sectors, one thing that is likely to be considered is overcoming health inequities. Along with the expansion of insurance programs, the government is expected to work on strengthening different racial groups and communities. Moreover, the current circumstances could lead healthcare experts to education, training, and licensing based on anti-bias training.
A Robust Public Health Capacity
The sudden outbreak of COVID-19 and the impact it has shown on the Global stage has made Governments across the world understand the importance of improving their healthcare capacity. Since it is very unlikely that it was the last pandemic ever to struck the human race, the policy reforms are likely to turn towards basic disease-control practices for healthcare facilities. Also, the federal legislation or reforms can encourage the participation of state governments for the welfare of citizens pushing more funds, better emergency response, and other necessary development.
Possible Implications Of COVID-19 On The Healthcare Systems
The existing healthcare systems were deeply flawed due to the aforementioned reasons. However, the continued pressure and poor response planning led to specific implications that made the situation heal. The consistent issues with material supplies and lack of healthcare facilities channelized improvement for overall control measures, especially after the early two months of the pandemic. Moreover, the situation helped to get over the roadblocks of quality healthcare which was much needed at that time for improving effectiveness on:
The pandemic made the health system reconsider its existing strategies and plan for a better future. Since the primary need for the patients suffering from COVID-19 was immediate access to healthcare, having access to real-time data related to hospital capacity could help ensure multi-dimensional care. Also, to work on capacity conservation, the following actions could find a way with the operational changes made to the healthcare system.
Using real-time data and models to highlight demand and accommodate medical facilities accordingly.
Create a system that restricts elective admissions to avoid capacity thresholds.
Virtual care systems to provide support for those in need.
Optimizing effective capacity in consideration of the resources.
Community access to alternative care sites for immediate or post-infection care.
Planning nearest routes to meet the demand for beds in case of 100 per cent occupancy.
Planning for elective care simultaneously as the situation improves.
Once done working on capacity planning systems, the next thing that could be fostered is meeting the supplies. As such, health systems could work on COVID-19 supply resurgence by working towards:
Dashboards to track estimated demand, check the inflow, and plan supplies.
Contingency and demand management to conserve supplies
Expansion of sourcing channels
Establishing coordination with emergency response teams, government, and other stakeholders.
Since the healthcare workforce is one of the most important components of the entire healthcare process, the pandemic made the government rush towards contingency staffing models for ancillary support. The new workforce model could help cut the workforce shortage in the following ways:
Plan workforce distribution model based on relative risk assessment.
Align with demand and supply requirements to extend contracts with temporary staffing agencies.
Engage with retired staff for service support
Improve rapid test plans by creating test teams
Upskill volunteering staff for critical operations
Define crisis staffing ratio
Reduce burden by collaborating with caregiver services
Aim for onboarding of graduates and caregivers who could help meet the gap for essential care.
How Could Quality Assurance Help Improve The Healthcare System?
Even though the situation seems critical with the existing process for healthcare at the global stage, the pandemic has made the Governments and Global Health Agencies work on rapid care and prevention. Whether it is policy reforms that need to extend insurance coverage or provide equity to the minority groups, the healthcare industry needs a system that can avoid downtime.
With the overwhelming effects of the pandemic, it is building a centralized system based on cloud, which can only thrive when worked with quality cloud testing services. Moreover, working on the technology that could accommodate capacity management, supply management, and workforce distribution within a single system would need healthcare software testing.
In short, quality assurance in healthcare is vital for ensuring minimum lag and maximum efficiency and throughput. Since the modern and upcoming reforms are trying to overcome the bias in medical care and ensure healthcare for all, extending insurance coverage and finding the most vulnerable community groups would need a software platform. However, this software platform needs to be developed by following the top-notch coding and development guidelines along with dedicated healthcare software testing and healthcare device testing.
After all, establishing a streamlined and organized healthcare system is not only vital for protecting the entire human race against the current pandemic but will also help prepare for any such situation in the future.
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