The COVID Pandemic has brought disarray to everyone’s life. For the Healthcare and Tourism stakeholders it has been particularly agonizing.
All of us had to deal with a downfall of challenges and issues to tackle and defy, but we need to remain afloat as we are in this for a while.
What draws another dimension to the difficulty in managing the pandemic and what comes after is the forecasted shortfall of 12.9 million healthcare workers globally by 2035. This preceding conclusion was drawn from the World Health Organization (WHO) research in the year of 2013.
This further complicates the lives of half the global papulation who are already lacking access to essential healthcare.
Two years ago, a report showed a projected physician shortage in the USA between 54,100 and 139,000 physicians by the year of 2033. As for Europe, the numbers lie in parallel to those of the USA. In Asia and Africa, besides missing healthcare professionals from the health system, an uneven geographical distribution of health workers is another obstacle.
However, in Europe a major differentiating factor is the growing number and ratio of its ageing population further straining its healthcare resources. So, I would not be surprised if Europe would suffer relatively the most as a result in the few futures decades.
Another often overlooked and miscalculated element is that we must factor in, is the number of healthcare workers leaving their positions due to COVID as well as other Reasons.
A rude awakening news is learning that the number of U.K. doctors considering early retirement has more than doubled over the past 12 months. We need to gauge that figure for the rest of Europe.
We should not be accustomed to the fact that we had always had fewer health workers than needed. As although with the advances in Medicine and Technology there will be more people receiving care, but also more illness and disease will be discovered and therefore growing number of patients.
So, a Patient can expect shrinking ability to access healthcare particularly for the more stable/ Chronic illness. Illness that does not require urgent interventions or Hospital/Facility care.
Where is the detour?
It is Technology. Can you imagine what would be the picture if COVID took place in the 1960’s with no internet, Telemedicine, Electronic Health Records, E prescriptions, Chatbots. Artificial intelligence or Smart Apps?
These modern tools are for adoption and utilization especially for the Health Tourist although I realize that for the most part that the Health Tourist will be seen by his desired healthcare professional in person eventually. This Technology enactment is expected as the health tourist is the smart patient happy to take on the challenge of having to take the extra step for more customized treatment.
Written by Dr Sherif Hassan, MD, International Healthcare Consultant, Washington DC and HTI representative in USA