Providing access to healthcare facilities and resources to the masses at all times throughout the country is challenging. Most of the time, the infrastructure of a place doesn’t support the prospect of setting up a facility. At other times, the masses are unable to cover up the healthcare expenses. For instance, the economy went down a ditch due to the pandemic. As a result, people are still struggling to pay their health insurance bills. Those who cannot afford medical insurance cannot find proper treatment and often die at a young age.
On the other hand, providing healthcare to the elderly and disabled who cannot visit the hospital whenever needed is also a grave impediment to adequate healthcare access. Apart from that, people living in remote areas cannot avail themselves of healthcare services because there is no clinic or hospital nearby. In such cases, the need for improving healthcare access to the public arises. Fortunately, multiple strategies can help in improving healthcare access, such as:
1. Educate the public about available services
The biggest reason why many people assume they don’t have complete healthcare access is that they are unaware of the available services. For example, a person with a skin condition may not seek treatment if they believe a dermatologist’s services are not available in their vicinity.
Apart from educating the public about available services, public health workers are responsible for spreading awareness. They spread awareness about medical conditions and prevalent health issues that cause chronic illness. However, for healthcare workers to disseminate accurate and reliable information, they need to remain abreast of the emerging problems in the healthcare sector. Thus, the need for updating their knowledge base arises, and they can turn to online resources for this purpose. Today, many healthcare professionals pursue masters in public health online as it allows them to manage work alongside studies. With such programs, they learn about growing healthcare issues and assist the public in curbing and mitigating them.
2. Be available round the clock
If patients have to turn towards a new clinic in times of emergency because the one they visit might be closed, there are chances of negligence. The new hospital or clinic may not have the patient’s medical history. Any treatment in case of an emergency poses the possibility of a side effect or adverse reaction. Such cases are evident across rural areas and underdeveloped countries. Hence, the healthcare industry should improve healthcare access by being available 24/7, as is the situation in developed nations. Once you ensure that the patients come to you whenever they need any healthcare service, you can improve healthcare access.
3. Introduce telehealth
Many people don’t visit clinics and hospitals because they are too far away. As a result, they don’t get to consult a professional healthcare service provider such as nurses or physicians. When unable to find professional help, people resort to self-diagnosis and self-treatment, which is highly dangerous.
Hence, to help in such a scenario where a patient cannot visit the hospital for whatever reasons, they should have the option to seek help through telehealth. In a non-emergency situation, a nurse can easily guide the patients over the phone and answer any questions. If the nurse suspects the issue needs a physical check-up, they can urge the patient to come to the hospital for a follow-up. However, in most cases, the telehealth service is a quick alternative option when the patient cannot visit the hospital.
4. Introduce retail clinics
Not everyone can take out the time and expenses to visit the emergency room. For reducing the load from the patient and the hospital staff, the healthcare industry can introduce retail clinics. In these clinics, a trained nurse can perform simple diagnoses and prescribe medicines according to the diagnosis. It allows the patient to avoid a visit to the hospital for minor health issues and seek help from the professional at the same time. If the patients’ condition worsens, the healthcare workers in these retail clinics can provide emergency primary care. From then, they can shift the patient to a hospital for advanced medical care.
5. Associate with student-run facilities
Student-run facilities are small clinics set up by medical students who need experience in the field. These clinics are usually set up in locations that need the most healthcare service attention. Thus, these students get the chance to help the vulnerable and the ailing while gaining experience. For this reason, student-run medical facilities often provide accessible healthcare services at a low cost or free of charge. However, as they are student-run facilities, the number of services the students can provide is limited. But it serves as a great initiative to improve healthcare access.
6. Promote services covered under insurance
Many laws allow healthcare services to low-income senior patients to improve healthcare access. The reason is that private screenings, tests, and diagnostic procedures can be pretty expensive. Undoubtedly, the economic factor is one of the leading causes of patients not seeking professional medical assistance. And as senior citizens are more susceptible to diseases and illnesses, they can benefit from these services. It includes diagnosis, screenings, physical and medical exams for their conditions, and so forth. The plan also includes free referrals to healthcare professionals or different healthcare programs.
Healthcare is the right of every citizen. Therefore, the government and the healthcare industry should take immediate actions to improve healthcare access to every citizen. For example, the healthcare sector can improve access by introducing retail clinics or student set-up facilities. On the other hand, the government can play its role by enhancing medical insurance policies. However, the most critical strategy includes educating the population about common medical problems and how to avoid them. The public cannot seek help if they don’t know who to ask for help, and educating them can solve this problem.