After several years of little to no evolution in the healthcare sector, the trends are finally changing. The industry is rapidly evolving its practices to stay in harmony with the current industry needs. According to the current demands, the healthcare industry is working towards finding cost-effective yet high-quality methods and strategies to make healthcare more accessible to the general public. The progress toward better healthcare access involves changing the practices to become more meaningful and efficient to finding innovative healthcare service delivery strategies to fulfill the current market needs.
But despite the constant effort to revolutionize practices and the way healthcare services are provided, there is a constant gap in healthcare access that only seems to escalate with time. The results are that low to middle-income patients find it difficult to afford healthcare services. In most cases, the barriers these patients are facing or not their responsibility, because between improper transportation to sky-high insurance costs, there are unsurmountable difficulties that patients from these classes face.
Luckily enough, the current healthcare trends are already urging hospitals to find ways to improve healthcare access. As a result, health administration officers, healthcare service providers, and public health workers are working closely together to develop strategies to relieve these issues. It has also led to an increase in the scope for health administration careers that mix clinical and business expertise. These health administrators are responsible for ensuring a smooth flow of operations and play a crucial role in setting up new practices in a hospital.
With that said, let us discuss some ways hospitals can improve healthcare access for their public.
1. Take on the social determinants of health
As we already mentioned, people from low and middle-income classes struggle to acquire quality healthcare, and healthcare access has become a social issue. Hence, the key to improving healthcare assessment is to determine the social needs of these classes by screening patients belonging to them. After that, hospitals can collaborate with different community organizations to establish a strategy that will help in tackling the healthcare issues these classes face.
But people still won’t have adequate healthcare access despite its availability if they don’t know where to look. Therefore, it is just as crucial to educate the masses about the available options and the steps they can take to acquire quality healthcare services.
2. Offer urgent care services
One of the reasons why people with non-life-threatening health issues and injuries still crowd the emergency department is because they have no place to go where their needs will be immediately met. Due to their health condition, setting up an appointment that can be days ahead or waiting hours for walk-in checkups is impossible. On the other hand, patients crowding the emergency department also create hindrances for the physicians and nurses on urgent care duty. In that case, setting up an urgent care unit that caters to non-life-threatening emergency cases will help improve workflow and healthcare access.
3. Set up a quick and easy appointment scheduling system
The goal of improving healthcare access is to make healthcare services available to everyone, including ailing patients who cannot communicate through calls to set up their appointment. There can be multiple reasons why a person can’t make a call, ranging from language problems to a speaking or hearing disability that makes it difficult for them to communicate. As a result, such individuals do not gain access to proper healthcare services.
One strategy that you can utilize is to call the front office and play the role of an ailing patient who is trying to make an appointment. This exercise will help you understand some potential procedural and administrative problems in the appointment system. You can also propose the options to set up appointments through an online form, email, or message. In fact, using appointment scheduling software will help your patients as well as your administrative team.
4. Partner with pop-up clinics
One of the major reasons you’re unable to treat too many patients simultaneously is that you don’t have the space or the facility to treat them. While it is a genuine limitation, it can hinder healthcare access. A solution to this problem is partnering up with different pop-up clinics to treat more patients daily.
Pop-up clinics are temporary clinic setups where volunteer doctors offer their services and treat patients with little to no service cost. These clinics often provide services to those who come first, and you may have to deal with the remaining influx. But pop-up clinics often prove to be a blessing for the low-income class that cannot afford expensive healthcare services. It connects them with competent providers who can help by treating them and advising them on how to stay healthy.
5. Associate with student-run facilities
Medical students need the necessary learning experience that comes with treating patients, and the general population benefits from free healthcare services. Hence, these student-run facilities take healthcare access and medical care to a whole new level. Such facilities and clinics are also located in different improvised areas where people can’t afford to acquire healthcare services from a private clinic or hospital. However, the only issue is that such facilities only provide limited services. But teaming up with a hospital will allow them to gain access to better healthcare equipment, which can significantly increase the services they provide and the quality of these services.
6. Turn to telehealth
Telehealth has become a popular service since the pandemic when people were discouraged from visiting the hospital unless they had a serious health issue that required urgent care. But since then, telehealth has become increasingly popular and should be incorporated into modern practices. Since many rural and improvised areas don’t have access to specialized healthcare services, transportation issues can limit healthcare access. In that case, telehealth can solve the problem by giving such patients access to the necessary specialists and setting up online appointments where they can talk to them for consultation.
Despite the ongoing work to improve healthcare access, a lot still needs to be done to achieve significant results. In the meantime, following these strategies can help you improve healthcare access within your domain and perform better than before. These strategies will make your services more accessible to the marginalized and low-income classes and give them the means to acquire professional healthcare services.