When it comes to healthcare, no two countries are identical.
Each country has developed its own policies, service delivery methods, and finance models. And each has had to manage unique resource restrictions and other factors that shift and change over time.
Even among high-income countries with the financial means to spend more on healthcare, practices differ widely. Every decision made impacts the healthcare system's performance in terms of access to care, patient experiences, and health outcomes.
The impact of admin on physician burnout and patient outcomes
More than ever, the global COVID-19 crisis has revealed the need for a connected, secure and outcome-driven healthcare ecosystem.
The increased number of administrative duties put on physicians, their practices, and their patients adds pressure to the healthcare system and patients' expenditures.
Excessive administrative responsibilities may divert time and attention away from the more clinically relevant activities of physicians and their teams, including consistently delivering care to patients and increasing the quality of that care. This can hinder patients from receiving timely and appropriate care or treatment.
A trend was noted in a 2016 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which found that doctors—ranging in specialty from internal medicine, to cardiology, to orthopaedic surgery—spend up to two hours of personal time each night completing administrative tasks integral to patient care. They found that this eventually leads to a chronic feeling of operating at a loss and contributes to burnout, driving many doctors to consider retiring or leaving direct patient care.
From the patient's perspective, however, it appears that other services are leaping forward at an accelerated rate when it comes to convenience, while healthcare is lagging behind. As Vivienne Winborne, our Director of Communications, wrote in a LinkedIn post, "Have you ever wondered why you can book a hair appointment or a restaurant online but not a doctor's appointment? Why Amazon can offer same-day delivery, but it takes a week for your ultrasound to be sent to your doctor?"
Such problems beg for innovative solutions involving every aspect of health care—its delivery to consumers, technology, and business models.
Healthcare models: a global comparison
In a 2021 research report, The Commonwealth Fund examined the health systems of 11 high-income countries to learn more about the policies and practices that lead to better results. The researchers measured healthcare affordability, administrative efficiency, equity, and outcomes.
Administrative efficiency refers to how health systems eliminate bureaucracy (paperwork) and other administrative duties that patients and physicians regularly encounter throughout care. Norway, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom are the top achievers in the administrative efficiency category shown in Exhibit 1 of the research report. The United States was ranked last.
The link between health insurance and patient outcomes
Due to insurance coverage limitations, doctors in the United States are the most likely to have difficulty acquiring their patient's medication or therapy. Compared to most other nations, the United States has a higher proportion of individuals who claim they spend a lot of time on paperwork connected to medical costs.
Administrative requirements cost patients, physicians, and management time and money and divert resources away from attempts to have one-to-one patient care. Several nations have streamlined their health insurance and payment systems through law, regulation, and standardisation. Top-ranked Norway, for example, decides patient copayments for physician costs on a geographical basis, applying uniform copayments to all public-sector physicians operating within a speciality within a geographic area.
Access to care, however, requires more than insurance coverage. Technology has a big part to play in reducing the administrative burden.
Technology and intelligent automation in healthcare
Healthcare systems must quickly incorporate technologies including remote consulting, wearable monitors and full digitisation to meet the challenges of the coming decade. Such innovations could transform health delivery and greatly simplify transactions, reduce errors and appeals, and make time and attention available to improve care.
Alphalake Ai was founded for this very reason—to help the healthcare industry harness modern advances in AI-powered automation and data interoperability. Our goal is to free the humans of healthcare from repetitive administrative tasks and bring about much-needed efficiency and transformation. We aim for performance measures that minimise unnecessary clinician burden and maximise patient-centeredness.
Healthcare spending by country
The Commonwealth Fund report emphasises that "smarter spending—not more spending—is required to achieve better health system performance".
According to the study, Exhibit 3 shows that the United States spends about twice as much of its GDP on health care as the typical OECD countries. The United States spent approximately 17% of GDP on health in 2019, significantly more than the other ten nations studied in this analysis. Furthermore, the United States' high out-of-pocket health spending per person, which ranks second in the OECD, makes it difficult for many Americans to get the care they need.
Inefficient healthcare spending can take many forms, ranging from unnecessary tests to delayed hospital discharges, from clinical errors and suboptimal or outdated treatment protocols to the underutilisation of generic medicines.
By identifying inefficient healthcare spending and reallocating these resources to other parts of the system, significant improvements in patient health outcomes and quality of care could be achieved without additional increases in overall expenditure. Tackling wasteful spending in healthcare thus has the potential to facilitate the transition from low-to-high-value care, freeing up resources that could be used for interventions that would bring higher value to patients, health systems and societies.
Developing optimal healthcare systems
No country has a flawless health system, as the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated. Health care is a work in progress, with new possibilities and difficulties arising as research advances. All countries, however, have the chance to strategically test out new policies and practices. The goal is to develop health systems that achieve optimal outcomes for all patients at a cost each nation can afford, and by learning from what has worked (and what has not) elsewhere in the globe, we can move closer to this lofty target.
Alphalake Ai is committed to supporting the healthcare space by contributing to the transformation of healthcare consumerism and the modern patient experience on a global scale. We believe that intelligent process automation and data interoperability are key building blocks for efficient and better-informed care.
With our technology and services, such as integrated automation, digital assistant chatbots and data science & agility, we simplify access to health data, improve healthcare quality and modernise the service experience.