Development of the U.S Healthcare System

International Developments

With the growing trend in globalization, it is almost impossible for countries to operate in isolation. Increasingly, different countries are exchanging skills, knowledge, expertise, and more importantly, learning from one another. It is no different in the healthcare sector. Despite the US being a leader in many fields of the global economy, its developments in the healthcare sector has largely been influenced by international developments (Derickson, 2005). More importantly, the provision of universal healthcare among other developed countries such as Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (U.K) have provided a model (if not enough motivation) for the U.S to overhaul its healthcare system (Derickson, 2005).

Rising Healthcare Costs

It is public knowledge that around the world, the cost of healthcare has been significantly rising. The impact of rising healthcare costs has not only been felt by patients but also by governments, insurers and employers alike. Notably, the US has been outspending other developed nations in paying for healthcare expenses (despite the fact that there have been growing concerns about diminishing healthcare quality) (Feynberg, 2011, p. 68). Because of this trend, healthcare in America has become increasingly unaffordable for most citizens. This is one reason advocated by proponents for change to overhaul the country’s healthcare system.

Citizens with Special Healthcare Needs

Citizens with special healthcare needs have greatly contributed to the development of the U.S healthcare system because they induce a new philosophical dimension to public policy debates on healthcare. Such special healthcare groups include mental patients, gays, elderly populations and the likes. These groups are part of the society and form an important population that needs specialized care. Because their treatment needs differ from ‘ordinary’ patients, they inform the policy development of the national healthcare system (Feynberg, 2011).

Future Influence of Healthcare Policy Dynamics

All the above variables identified to influence the development of the U.S healthcare system are forces of change that are here to stay. For example, International developments and rising healthcare costs are variables that have traditionally influenced most healthcare systems. History shows that healthcare costs have always been “sticky upwards” and therefore, this trend is likely to prevail in coming years (Feynberg, 2011). With rising healthcare demand and a growing baby boomer population in the U.S, there is a growing divide between the demand and supply of healthcare services. Indeed, this situation is likely to contribute to the growing healthcare costs in the future.

Regarding international developments, it is crucial to explain that nations will always strive to better their healthcare services. Considering some countries are pioneers in this regard; countries that trail behind will almost always emulate better healthcare models (Derickson, 2005). Currently, the trend is to provide universal care. Indeed, America is following in the heels of other developed countries which have implemented a universal healthcare model. Therefore, international developments will continue to affect the structure of the country’s healthcare system.

Finally, citizens with special healthcare needs will also continue to influence healthcare policy dynamics in the US because they are here to stay and require specialized attention. Such groups have experienced a historic period of neglect and discrimination and in today’s world of affirmative action; such populations (requiring special healthcare needs) will continue to influence the policy framework of the US Healthcare system (Feynberg, 2011). For example, regarding mental-illness, Feynberg (2011) explains that “Throughout the history of mental health policy making, officials have had to struggle in making informed decisions on what level of resources to invest in rival settings of service delivery and among preventive curative and custodial care objectives” (p. 78).

Perhaps, going forward, another issue that will continue to affect the development of the US healthcare system is events in public policy (Helms, 2000, p. 3). Historically, events in public policy have completely changed the structure of the country’s healthcare system. For example, Medicare and Medicaid programs have significantly changed the structure of the U.S public health system (Helms, 2000, p. 3). These programs are a product of events in public policy. Such dynamics will continue to feature in healthcare debates and similarly, they will continue to affect the country’s healthcare model.

Importance of Technology in Healthcare

Information technology has revolutionized different aspects of our society but its contribution to the healthcare sector has been profound in three areas of healthcare service provision – quality, efficiency, and safety (Medpac, 2004). The influence of information technology on the efficiency of healthcare is especially seen from the fact that it improves the delivery of healthcare services. For example, home-centered care has greatly been improved from the adoption of information technology tools (Medpac, 2004). Information technology has also improved healthcare safety because it reduces human error. Concisely, information technology is highly reliable and accurate. Finally, information technology improves the quality of healthcare services because it improves healthcare research, leading to the development of new knowledge and tools that are vital to the provision of healthcare services. Comprehensively, information technology is very beneficial to the healthcare sector.

References

Derickson, A. (2005). Health Security for All: Dreams of Universal Health Care in America. New York: JHU Press.

Feynberg, Y. (2011). America’s Healthcare System: Discussion and Analysis of Problems and Solutions. Web.

Helms, R. (2000). The Changing United States Health Care System: The Effect of Competition on Structure and Performance. Washington: American Enterprise Institute.

Medpac. (2004). Information Technology In Health Care. Web.

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