The United States is home to more than three hundred million people, and more than half of us are clustered around major urban population centers. Some of the largest population centers are in California, Washington State, and elsewhere along the west coast. For such a large group of people, including more than one major city with a population in the millions, healthcare is a major concern. We have returning soldiers, an aging generation of baby boomers, increasing rates of heart disease and cancer, and many other factors serving to push healthcare to the top of everyone’s mind.
Here are five of the largest areas of concern in healthcare today, relevant to the western US:
Contraception & Birth Control
Early last year, California passed a new law, which is aimed at curbing unintended pregnancies. In particular, the western US states would like to curb teen pregnancies. At present, teen pregnancy rates in the US are at their lowest point in decades, and are still dropping, a fact which is due in part to measures like this. However, this is a broad statistic, which sees a lot of variation across different geographical areas and ethnic groups. With a still-growing population, this is an area of concern, which is likely to remain so for decades to come.
Healthcare Technology Rollout
Home healthcare technology is one of the waves of the future, with new innovations being developed in home healthcare applications on a regular basis. One of the issues faced with the rollout of such devices and software applications in the western United States is a cultural one. There is a powerful impetus to get new innovations to market right away, instead of taking the time to make them more efficient, develop reliably secure information sharing, or otherwise refine them. Development is seen as more of an exclusively ongoing function, a mindset which can lead to security concerns and higher initial costs.
Estimates suggest that, in California alone, one in six adults has a mental healthcare need. This is slightly higher than the national average, and experts worry that it may be due in substantial part to previously unrecognized and undiagnosed conditions. Today, the western American states are focusing on efforts to deliver efficient and affordable mental health treatment to those that need it, in as efficient and cost-effective a manner as possible. This involves a wide range of skill sets; it includes not only mental health professionals, but also administration, leadership, planning, and financial skills.
In Washington state, the actions of a minority of medical professionals have had a profound impact on patients’ ability to manage chronic pain. In a trend which is expanding through the American west, and may soon extend eastward, opiate-based medications are seeing much tighter restrictions than in recent years. This has led to a lot of pain patients feeling punished for the actions of individuals with whom they have no connection, and has contributed to a widespread search for other methods of managing chronic pain. New methods, as well as more traditional models, have thousands of new adherents, but many of these methods report inconsistent results at best.
In the western US, as with the rest of the country, healthcare management offers the largest challenges which have yet to be overcome by the industry. Competition within local markets, research funding, the development of new antibiotics, the push to legalize medicinal marijuana, and the ability to get affordable medical services to the people who need them are all areas of major concern right now, and management strategy plays a major role in how these situations will ultimately be resolved. While considerable progress has been made in recent years, there is still a great deal of opportunity for new, outside-the-box thinking, networking, and implementing cutting-edge healthcare solutions.
For More Information
With a growing population, increasing racial and ethnic variation, and the steady advancement of the baby boomer generation, the western United States is going to continue to see its healthcare concerns increase and diversify. This will add new opportunities for healthcare professionals with relevant degrees, as well as expanding upon those professionals’ traditional roles. The situation promises ample future challenges, as well as profoundly rewarding careers. Find out more about the current state of affairs in healthcare in the western US.