What are three of the biggest challenges facing healthcare leaders, and what is at least one method found in the current healthcare research literature to address the challenge?
The Healthcare department is a growing field that continues to change daily. The changes are causing challenges that need to be addressed by competent and experienced leaders. Hospitals and other healthcare institutions need professional and qualified leaders who will run and operate the institutions effectively. It is not easy to come up with influential leaders who will run the healthcare industry effectively. However, the available leaders can try and navigate the resources available to ensure that the department of health runs smoothly. It requires leaders who have vast experience dealing with various challenges to withstand and overcome the challenges that are within the healthcare department. Effective leadership in the healthcare department improves the effectiveness and efficiency of the health industry. However, the leaders are faced with tremendous challenges. Sometimes, it becomes hard for the leaders to deal with the challenges due to a lack of resources and a qualified workforce. This article will explore some of the challenges that these leaders face while trying to balance issues in the department of health. Also, I will explain some of the recommendations that can help in dealing with the challenges effectively.
Human Resource Challenges
One of the significant problems facing healthcare leaders is human resources. Often, the number of workers that are employed is less, yet the work is a lot. The government has tried to ensure enough workers, but it still becomes hard since the workers must be paid. Following this, the healthcare leaders find it hard trying to manage the available workers with the workload. During this time, the health care department has suffered due to the pandemic. Lack of enough workers has made it hard to deal with the pandemic effectively. Some of the available workers lack the required skills and competencies to deal with healthcare problems (Ghiasipour, Mosadeghrad, Arab & Jaafaripooyan, 2017). Consequently, healthcare leaders have to try and employ competent workers who require higher pay. This has been a significant problem since the government must be willing to pay the competent workers handsomely. Otherwise, they will refuse to work in various facilities where the number of patients is high and require specialized care.
The challenge of human resources is complicated and hard to deal with because most managers do not have the authority to employ the workers. The government is primarily responsible for hiring new workers, but it does not employ as many workers as needed, especially in public hospitals. Owing to the increased workload in the hospitals, the shortage of workforce leads to increased tension and conflicts. An example can be seen in the Iranian case where the healthcare leaders claim they do not have enough personnel. Following this, they are forced to use people who are not qualified for the job and are uninterested in their work (Ghiasipour, Mosadeghrad, Arab & Jaafaripooyan, 2017). It becomes challenging for the leaders to manage all the tension among the employees. Sometimes, people who are not suitable for the job are employed to fill in some gaps. Such people will always have issues with their jobs, hence causing more conflicts with their workmates. As a result, it becomes hard for healthcare leaders to develop good working relationships between the personnel and the supervisors.
Another human resource challenge that faces many leaders in the vast diversity of the hospital staff. The hospital staff has different education levels, achievements, aims, objectives, social class, professions, and income. Besides, the hospital staff had different cultural backgrounds and different religious beliefs (Ghiasipour, Mosadeghrad, Arab & Jaafaripooyan, 2017). Sometimes, it becomes hard to deal with all these people since they are not the same, and a leader might not know how to deal with all of them equally without hurting any worker’s feelings. A leader must ensure that they employ different leadership techniques to handle the employees adequately. According to the research done in the Iranian Hospitals, one of the hospital managers indicated that “We have diverse employees with different needs and motives (from faculty members to servants)…….It is difficult to recognize their attitudes and satisfy them (Ghiasipour, Mosadeghrad, Arab & Jaafaripooyan, 2017). This shows that the leader has a challenge of dealing with all the employee’s needs, wants, and preferences.
The healthcare leadership becomes disoriented due to changes in politics. The government keeps changing, and at the same time, the leads who are elected bring in new policies and procedures that should be followed. For example, during the Obama administration, a lot was changed in the healthcare department. However, some of the changes made during that time are not effective to date. The Trump government also came up with new policies, which will change in some years to come. These changes affect the leadership. Sometimes it is hard to adapt to changes. According to Rubenstein (n.d), some of the political changes are referred to as disruptive innovations because they interfere with the running of the hospitals. If the changes are not going to improve the healthcare department, then the government should pause them. The leaders must be ready to help the workers cope with these changes to work smoothly. These political changes lead to changes in healthcare departments. As a leader, one must be ready to instill the changes in their respective fields, so there are no disagreements with the government.
Political changes lead to a lack of cooperation between the healthcare providers, the government, the community representatives, and other stakeholders in the healthcare department (Cooper, Frank, Gouty, & Hansen, 2003). Before making any changes, the government should ensure that they have consulted the healthcare stakeholders to affect the healthcare industry negatively. This will help make the work of healthcare leaders easy, as they will adjust to the made changes. Therefore, the government representative needs to ensure that they involve the healthcare leaders in any decisions they make as long as it concerns the healthcare industry (Figueroa, Harrison, Chauhan, & Meyer, 2019). This will, give the healthcare leaders time to guide and explain to the workers about the changes made and give them enough time and resources to adjust to the changes. If this is done, the leaders and managers of hospitals will not have a hard time dealing with change since they are also part of the changes and had advocated for them.
The cost of running a healthcare department is very high. Following this, a considerable amount of money should always be set aside to deal with the issues in the department. However, most times, the amount of money given to the healthcare sector is not enough to solve the issues and run the hospitals effectively. In the United States of America, maintaining the healthcare department has been going up each year. In 2018, the United States government spent about $3.6 trillion on healthcare alone (Lee, Hamelin, & Daugherty, 2019). This means that each person was given an average of #11000 for treatment. According to the Centers for Medicare, they have predicted that national spending on the health care department will climb up to $6.2 trillion by the time we reach 2028 (Lee, Hamelin, & Daugherty, 2019). This shows that the government must be ready to invest more in the healthcare department to provide the best healthcare. Since the pandemic began, healthcare has suffered the most due to a lack of enough resources to deal with the pandemic. This shows that the health care department is underfunded. As time goes by, the population keeps growing and aging. This has made healthcare services to become more expensive.
Leaders in the department of health are affected by the economic changes. The healthcare demands and needs are a lot, while the leaders do not have enough money to deal with these needs. The cost of maintaining the health workers is also high (Judge & Ryman, 2001). If the manager needs the hospital to run effectively, they must be ready to employ competent employees. Sometimes, the hospitals are forced to carry out some training to manage to cope with changes. According to Myrtle (2018), organizational learning and training help empower employees and make them have advanced skills. For example, after the pandemic began, the healthcare workers had to receive some training on how they will deal with it. This included being shown how to deal with patients who have contracted the virus and how to protect themselves from the virus. Such training is important and a must; otherwise, the heath of many healthcare workers will be affected. Such training requires money and other resources. If the leaders are not given all the resources, then it becomes hard for them to administer such courses and training, putting the lives of the healthcare workers at risk.
Recommendations to solve the healthcare department leadership challenges
Working with other stakeholders
The leaders can only solve the challenges they face in the healthcare industry if they agree to work with the help of other stakeholders. Sometimes, even the government does not know what is happening in the healthcare department unless the leaders communicate with the various stakeholders. A good leader may be an individual who has good skills and impeccable knowledge. However, the leader must be ready to involve others and think in terms of the group to deal with most of the challenges presented above (Arroliga et al., 2014). When it comes to the human resource depart, the hospital administration can decide to come up with ways to help deal with the heavy workload. However, the leaders cannot manage to achieve this if they do not cooperate with other stakeholders (Andersson, 2015). Following this, leaders need to have impeccable working skills to know how to deal with these challenges as a group. When working together with the relevant stakeholder, it will be easy to get suggestions and ideas on what will work best for the healthcare sector. The leader is then required to sample out all the suggestions and implement those that will work out.
For example, Student trainees can be absorbed during their internship to work in hospitals with few employees. This will help to reduce the workload in a great way. However, this cannot happen if the hospital administration does not request such help from the medical institutions. The leaders need to plan ahead of time and ensure that they have approached the institutions early enough before the students are booked (Al Kuwaiti & Al Muhanna, 2019). After the student practice period is over, the hospital administration can liaise with the government so that the student-graduates are employed in that particular hospital. Following this, it is evident that leaders have the higher hand in solving some of the major challenges that face the health care department. If the leaders do not become creative and come up with relevant solutions, then it will be hard to deal with all the challenges that have been highlighted.
In conclusion, various challenges face the healthcare sector leaders. These challenges are the major causes of poor services that most citizens receive when they go to the hospital. This shows that leadership is a very important element in the healthcare industry. If the order of merit does not select the leaders, it will be hard for them to cope with these challenges and implement policies that will help to improve the leadership department. As seen, the major recommendation that will help deal with the leaders’ problems is ensuring that the leaders are perfect and involve other stakeholders when dealing with these issues. This means that the leader is willing to listen to others and to consider their opinions. Following this, it will be easy to handle all the challenges they face because they will not be dealing with them alone. This will then improve the entire state of the healthcare industry, making it better and more efficient for the citizens.
Al Kuwaiti, A., & Al Muhanna, F. A. (2019). Challenges Facing Healthcare Leadership in Attaining Accreditation of Teaching Hospitals. Leadership in Health Services, 32(2), 170-181. doi:10.1108/LHS-01-2018-0002
Andersson, T. (2015). The Medical Leadership Challenge in Healthcare is an Identity Challenge. Leadership in Health Services, 28(2), 83-99. doi:10.1108/LHS-04-2014-0032
Arroliga, A. C., Huber, C., Myers, J. D., Dieckert, J. P., & Wesson, D. (2014). Leadership in Health Care for the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities. The American Journal of Medicine, 127(3), 246-249. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2013.11.004
Cooper, R. W., Frank, G. L., Gouty, C. A., & Hansen, M. M. (2003). Ethical Helps and Challenges Faced by Nurse Leaders in the Healthcare Industry. JONA: The Journal of Nursing Administration, 33(1), 17-23. doi:10.1097/00005110-200301000-00005
Figueroa, C. A., Harrison, R., Chauhan, A., & Meyer, L. (2019). Priorities and Challenges for Health Leadership and Workforce Management Globally: A Rapid Review. BMC Health Services Research, 19(1), 1-11. doi:10.1186/s12913-019-4080-7
Ghiasipour, M., Mosadeghrad, A. M., Arab, M., & Jaafaripooyan, E. (2017). Leadership Challenges in Health Care Organizations: The Case of Iranian Hospitals. Medical Journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 31(1), 560-567. doi:10.14196/mjiri.31.96
Judge, W. Q., & Ryman, J. A. (2001). The Shared Leadership Challenge in Strategic Alliances: Lessons From the U.S. Healthcare Industry. Academy of Management Perspectives, 15(2), 71-79. doi:10.5465/ame.2001.4614907
Lee, E., Hamelin, T., & Daugherty, J. (2019). Reimagine Health Care Leadership, Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century. Journal of PeriAnesthesia Nursing, 34(4), e19-e20. doi:10.1016/j.jopan.2019.05.052
Myrtle, R. C. (2018). The Challenges of Leadership. The Health Care Manager, 37(2), 158-163. doi:10.1097/HCM.0000000000000215
Rubenstein, D. (n.d.). Today’s Health Leadership Challenges. Chapter 3, 39-58.