We value several factors that impact our lives. As the world is progressing drastically, these factors are rapidly increasing in amount. However, health has always been the most significant domain of human life. Health plays a critical role in every field of life, from domestic to national development. Countrywide progress also depends on the health of the people at large, and all other economic sectors rely on healthcare.
Therefore, every country spends enormous amounts on healthcare. According to WHO, the world spent a whopping $8.3 trillion on healthcare in 2020. It grew further by 5.8% and reached $8.8 trillion in 2021. The rise of the COVID pandemic is one reason for such an increase in healthcare expenses. However, it remains among the most capital-intensive sectors throughout the year. Looking at such towering investments, anyone will think that healthcare must be highly developed worldwide.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Healthcare is one of the most vulnerable fields in most countries around the world. According to the World Economic Forum, more than half the world’s population does not have proper essential health services. You must be wondering why it is this way. Well, this article can provide you some answers. It highlights three obstacles restricting the development of the healthcare sector.
1. Rising costs of healthcare education
Human resource is the most critical asset for the progress of any industry. How would the healthcare sector develop when the human resource required for its operations is getting scarce with time? The leading reason behind it is the rising costs of medical education. Likewise, how would the current workforce work toward career development if continuing education comes at such a hefty cost? Nonetheless, online education has been providing affordable alternatives, allowing healthcare aspirants and existing professionals to acquire knowledge easily. For instance, nurses in today’s era are opting for online programs like online nursing masters degree to propel their career. These online avenues have been supporting the industry to fill the workforce gap.
However, a considerable disparity still exists. According to the US National Institute of Health (NIH), the world spends over $100 billion on medical education each year. The amount might seem too much. Anyone would consider this amount enough to generate ample healthcare professionals. However, individual expense on medical education has reached way beyond an affordable threshold. Medical schools are charging as high as $61,000 per year. Therefore, there are still fewer graduates than needed in most of the densely populated countries.
This issue is driving more and more students away from medical education. In comparison, labor demands for medical professionals are increasing. This dilemma is severely hurting the healthcare sector.
2. Integration of Big Data and Information Technology
The field of medical science and technology has always worked in close association. Healthcare readily welcomes technological advancements. Medical diagnostics and numerous treatments heavily rely on technology. Over the last decade or so, the influx of big data analytics and IT applications has exponentially increased in this field. However, the pace of integration is not appropriate. There is a dire need to incorporate data analytics in healthcare to maintain patient data efficiently.
Unfortunately, most countries are lagging in this initiative. Primarily, the developing world is at the mercy of the developed in this domain. They do not have the necessary technical expertise to incorporate data technology and IT in healthcare. Therefore, it creates a massive disparity between the healthcare standards of the two worlds. The developed world effectively manages healthcare data through Electronic Health Records (EHS), reaching new potentials in this industry. Simultaneously, the developing world still relies on huge paper clumps to maintain the same data.
Technology provides the necessary support to speed up progress in every industry. It is providing these avenues for healthcare too. However, lack of fluidity in its integration is restricting the development of the healthcare sector.
3. Drug price control
According to a survey by Regis, about 20% of patients ask for an alternative prescription because of high drug prices. Medicines and other pharmaceutical products are impossible to avoid in healthcare. Any patient will require pharmaceutical support after initial medical treatment, and this is where the patients suffer the most. The pharmaceutical industry is becoming increasingly profit-oriented, forgetting that their products are not like fast-moving consumer goods. They are violently milking markets irrespective of their negative impacts.
According to Reuters, pharmaceutical companies increased the price of 860 essential drugs amid the wake of the COVID pandemic in 2020. The pandemic already proved financially devastating for many people. Rising drug prices further exacerbated the situation for them. And this isn’t just an opportunistic behavior in response to the pandemic. Biospace quotes that pharma companies increase drug prices by an average of 3.3% every year irrespective of the input prices. So they might be getting raw material at a lower rate. They still increase finished product prices to expand their margins. As a result, the end consumer suffers badly.
The pharmaceutical industry acts as a backbone for the healthcare sector. Its inconsiderate outlook toward business etiquette is restricting the development of the healthcare sector.
Several new domains of life gain popularity with time. They fade away with time as well. However, healthcare is an aspect that has been the most radical for humans and will remain too. Therefore, ensuring proper development of this sector is pivotal for preserving the quality of life. It has a direct impact on the social fabric of nations and dictates their communal growth. The Healthcare sector must receive the immediate attention of the global stakeholders so that our generations can have a better future.