Public health professionals are an integral part of any society, as was recently demonstrated by the pandemic. Doctors, nurses, and lab technicians served as the first line of defense against COVID-19 and saved countless lives. However, in addition to highlighting the importance of healthcare professionals, the pandemic also brought to light many shortcomings in the healthcare system. In the aftermath of the pandemic, it has become increasingly apparent that the public healthcare system needs to be improved. The struggles faced by medical professionals during COVID-19 have provided insights into what steps need to be taken to make healthcare more accessible, effective, and equitable.
Here are a few ways that public health professionals can contribute to shaping the future of healthcare.
Further Your Education
Healthcare professionals obtain years of technical education before they are allowed to enter this field. However, education does not stop there. For the continued advancement of their career and better health outcomes for their patients, healthcare professionals need to continue learning.
Traditional education has its merits but is not accessible to everyone. Every minute spent commuting to college or navigating the way to classes is a minute spent away from practice. This is why virtual learning is becoming so popular, especially among working individuals with hectic schedules. To further their education, healthcare professionals can enroll in online MPH programs no GRE required. This can help them stay up-to-date with all the advancements in their specific fields and understand how healthcare is evolving globally.
From reviewing the latest research to learning how to apply it in their daily work, they will learn new techniques and refine old ones to grow in their field.
Learn to Communicate With a Diverse Population
The US has one of the most diverse populations in the world, and its diversity will only continue to grow. Along with the cultural enrichment it brings to communities, diversity presents a unique challenge for public health professionals. Patients from different ethical and religious backgrounds require healthcare professionals tending to them to have an understanding of their religious and cultural practices.
More often than not, a language barrier exists between patients and their doctors and nurses. This can make patients hesitate to reach out for help when they need it. When they see a medical professional, they often fail to communicate their problems and symptoms, leaving the doctors with limited information to diagnose them. Instructions given by doctors about medications and treatments can be lost in translation. All this leads to poor health outcomes in populations from marginalized communities. This is why healthcare professionals need to develop their communication skills while keeping these communities in mind.
Get Familiar With Telehealth
The past few years saw slow but steady growth in the popularity of telehealth services. With the surge of the pandemic, people increasingly sought telehealth services as everyone wanted to access healthcare from the safety of their homes. Today, when the risk of contracting COVID-19 is minimal, and vaccines are readily available, the popularity of telehealth services continues to rise. In fact, a new study shows that the use of telehealth has increased 38 times since before the spread of COVID-19. This is because people have gotten used to the convenience of having online medical aid available to them at all times. Elderly and disabled people who have mobility issues can seek help from within their homes.
Telehealth also presents a lot of advantages for medical staff. They can reach many more people with the help of remote consultations than in-person checkups. People with autoimmune diseases who are at risk of contracting diseases easily can be provided with sound medical advice without putting their health in danger. This is why telehealth will be a significant part of the future of healthcare, and public health professionals need to embrace it.
Partake in Data Collection, Sharing, and Analysis
When the pandemic was at its peak, it became essential for healthcare centers to collect data regarding their patients and share it with other hospitals and government organizations. The data collected played an important role in deciding which populations were in the most danger and when and where urgent medical help was needed. This indicates that the future of healthcare will also be driven by data regarding the public’s general health and needs. Medical health professionals must learn how to collect data, organize it, and, most importantly, analyze it so that it can form the basis of all decisions and policies related to public health.
Participate in the Development of Public Health Policies
Public health policies are one of the most powerful tools to improve a community’s health and well-being. In recent years, federal and state governments have been taking a renewed interest in public health policies. The pandemic has only made it clearer that health policies need to be reimagined to address the disparities in the healthcare system. This gives healthcare professionals an excellent opportunity to participate in policy-making, a job they are well-suited to do because of their experience in the sector. By playing an active role in the decision-making process, medical staff can ensure that the policies devised actually serve the public in the best way possible and make it easier for them to do their jobs.
The spread of COVID-19 made the shortcomings of the healthcare system very obvious. Each new wave of patients brought with it new crises that medical professionals had to grapple with while their resources continued to dwindle.
Now that the pandemic has passed, the healthcare system needs to be reimagined to deal with said shortcomings. Medical health professionals can play their part by continuing their education to refine their skills. A diverse population of patients requires that doctors communicate in a culturally-sensitive manner and do their best to overcome language barriers.
Telehealth services will continue to grow in popularity; healthcare professionals must learn the best ways to provide consultations remotely. Data collection, analysis, and implementation will play an important role in identifying the system’s limitations, and healthcare providers should learn how to implement strategies for data modernization. Most importantly, healthcare policies should not be left to government officials, and healthcare workers should make their voices heard in the process of policy-making to ensure the public’s well-being.