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Local hospital looks overseas to help meet increasing demand for nurses

Challenges and Opportunities – International Health Care Resources & Alliances

Chicago Hospital News July 2005

Challenges and Opportunities International Health Care Resources & Alliances
by Chris Noronha

The present National debate on Pensions, Social Security and Medicare is the result of and part of a broader perspective on the aging of our population and the resulting pressure on the Nationwide Health Care and Financial System.

The U.S. Census Bureau, estimates that the number of individuals over 55 is expected to increase from 57 Million in 2000 to 101 Million in 2025 an increase of 44 Million .

Simultaneously the number of 18-25 Year Olds who make up the future Work Force will not increase over the next 15 years.

There will consequently be extreme pressure on Health Care Resources and Infrastructure to meet the demand for services from this very significant population increase and for the Industry to use Technology to optimize specialist expertise and resources.

A logical conclusion is that the Health Care business in the U.S, has to develop International connections to ensure a continuous supply of skills and cost-effective services. This process is similar to the evolution in IT over the last 10 Years where we have recognized that International expertise can be used efficiently and productively to meet the demand for people and services.

This article does not intend to suggest that the Health Care Industry should outsource essential and critical components but rather recommends that we look seriously at using International skills to meet Supply- Demand shortfalls in the US and, subject to meeting standards on security, consider possibilities of carrying out non-essential activities at external locations .

The IT and Associated services business has evolved into a high value added service using this same concept but it is important to recognize that the delivery of essential tasks and the development of critical strategies is still carried out in the US.

Health Care in the US has long recognized the skills, adaptability and knowledge of overseas professionals particularly Physicians, Nurses and Technicians and we need to build on this experience and credibility to create a broad based International Network that will truly benefit all participants Nationwide and at International sites . There is great need for International alliances and partnerships between Hospitals here and overseas to create the basis of a credible network to cover increasing population at both locations.

Nursing Services and Technology are two possible areas of cooperation that relate directly to our situation in the US. The Demand- Supply shortfall of registered Nurses is anticipated to be around 1 Million in 15 years and this represents a starting point of International cooperation. Use of overseas skills will address the needs of Hospitals as well as provide Professionals with Masters and Doctorate degrees who would act as Trainers and Facilitators to increase Nursing enrollments in the US. Congress recently recognized this situation and allotted 50,000 Visas for International RNs which hopefully is the commencement of a larger program to cover other professions. The Nursing profession is particularly hard hit because 75 % of all Nurses will be above 45 Years old by 2010 and will themselves form part of the aging population.

It is imperative that the industry deals with and identifies essential services and determines the level of non Core activities that form a significant part of any Hospitals costs. Once this stage has been completed and a consensus arrived at that it is in the best interest to use external resources either here or overseas the industry will develop the efficiencies and focus necessary to deal with providing and maintaining our Health Care standards. Technology will deliver these efficiencies but it is still necessary to build in security and standards of reporting. International Software and Technology firms now have specialist Health Care divisions which can design and develop solutions to meet unique needs at significant cost efficiencies.

The major beneficiary from these initiatives will be increased coverage of the population particularly the segment that is not insured. U.S Health Systems can simultaneously leverage the benefits of transfer of knowledge and processes which will deliver improved health standards to an overseas population through International alliances.

The evolution into an International Health Care network of Human Resources and Technology should ideally form the basis of strategic plans to meet the challenges over the next 10 Years. I believe that we are sufficiently adaptable to meet and address these unique demands to continue to maintain a standard that is one of the best in the world and to meet the greatest challenge to our Health Care System.