Arguably the most significant issue that may affect the future of healthcare delivery in the U.S. is aging population. The tremendous progress in technology and medical science means people are living longer. In addition, patients now have higher expectations from healthcare providers and the intense competition means patients also have higher bargaining power. Thus, healthcare professionals are not only expected to demonstrate technical competency but also expected to contribute to management and operating functions.
But more than anything else, aging population has been changing the roles of doctors and nurses as well as the actual delivery of healthcare services. There is now greater focus on preventive care because it lowers the burden on the healthcare system. Similarly, healthcare professionals are also watching their job descriptions expanding such as nurses performing diagnosis procedures while doctors assuming greater roles in organizational leadership.
Healthcare professionals are now also expected to develop soft skills such as communication and cross-cultural skills. Not only population is aging but also becoming more diverse which means doctors are increasingly treating patients from different cultural backgrounds. Different cultures have different norms and communication skills and lack of cross-cultural skills negatively affects the quality of healthcare.
Aging population also means the burden on the healthcare sector has been growing and supply of healthcare professionals is having difficulty keeping up with the demand. As a result, healthcare professionals such as doctors are expected to become more efficient, both in terms of healthcare delivery and resource utilization.