Current State of Healthcare

According to the World Health Organization, $7.2 trillion USD or 10% of global gross domestic product (GDP) was spent on health in 2015. Administrative costs now make up about 34% of total healthcare expenditures in the United States.  This compares with the healthcare expenditure of the UK (16%) and the Netherlands (20%). A 2019 report from the WHO states that the health sector “continues to expand faster than the economy. Between 2000 and 2017, global health spending in real terms grew by 3.9% a year while the economy grew 3.0% per year.”  

A report from Deloitte in 2019 states that, Global healthcare expenditures continue to escalate, shining a light on health systems’ need to reduce costs and increase efficiency. Spending is projected to increase at an annual rate of 5.4 percent in 2017–2022, from $7.724 trillion USD to $10.059 trillion USD.

The World Health Organization predicts a “shortfall of 18 million health workers by 2030, mostly in low- and lower-middle income countries.” They warn that “countries at all levels of socioeconomic development face, to varying degrees, difficulties in the education, employment, deployment, retention, and performance of their workforce." Standards in Healthcare Organization Management (HOM) are tools that may help address this shortage through risk and resource management, focused planning, improved education of the healthcare workforce.

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has exposed fissures in current management support systems.  Delays in manufacturing, distribution, and maintaining supplies of personal protective equipment during the early stages of the pandemic risked the lives of healthcare workers and patients alike. Telemedicine systems were caught unprepared, as large numbers of caregivers and patients were quarantined, and unable to meet and share vital information.   Patient payment systems have been slow to adjust to billing patients who must receive treatment virtually.  Facilities have been overwhelmed with an oppressive volume of COVID-19 infected patients in their emergency rooms. This pandemic revealed that the management systems that support clinical services are challenged to meet the healthcare needs of their stakeholders.

One trend gaining popularity in some countries is the “value-based payment system.” This method of payment rewards healthcare providers and health organizations on the quality of care provided, not just the quantity. Examples of value-based programs include: hospital-acquired conditions, readmission reduction programs, and home health value-base program. Value-based programs often require the collection of data to determine obtainment of goals and metrics. HOM standards are a necessary tool for the planning, management, monitoring, and improvement necessary for a value-based payment system.

A recent healthcare phenomenon that continues to increase in size and importance is digital health, which may also be referred to as e-health, telehealth, or telemedicine. A 2020 statistic suggests that, “The global market size for telemedicine is projected to increase from around $45 billion USD in 2019 up to nearly $180 billion USD by 2026.” As the use of digital health grows, healthcare organizations will require documented processes to guide the safe and effective use of digital data.  The COVID-19 pandemic has unexpectedly accelerated this trend, underscoring the need for standardization to respond quickly to unpredictable changes in the market.