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Healthcare Industry: Money-spinners of Modern Times?

27 Feb 2017Health Essays

INTRODUCTION 

In this fast-pacing modern world, people are facing a mixed bag of achievements. On one hand they are earning money and enjoying the life through countless avenues, on the other, they are driven by stress, agony and countless ailments due to lifestyle hazards or the deteriorating environmental conditions. Between these two extreme poles, Healthcare has been helping the humans to maintain their balance by caring their health, and sharing their ideas on how to achieve a fuller life with a sound mind in a healthy body. And in the present day context, Healthcare is poised to become the top industry with the rise of both health hazards and the desire of human to be more beautiful and efficient. Therefore this report probes on the pros and cons of this industry by weighing its salient features and futuristic implications, before concluding on an approbatory note.

HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY IN BRIEF

Healthcare Industry is a broad based term, encompassing a large gamut diverse industries, which some way or other helps humans in the processes of healing, body-mind building, sustaining good health, giving birth or engineering cosmetic changes. With the growth in its demand condition, this industry is also growing as one of the most competitive service sectors of the modern times, complete with technologies, corporate designs and management skills. With rapid globalisation, this industry too has seen the birth of corporate giants as the global players. For example, most of the large companies operating in the £4 billion U.K Healthcare sector (global market) belong to foreign countries, with a staggering number of 50,000 staff manning that industry (Healthcare, 2007).The impact of this sector in U.K. alone is understood when some companies thrive on analysing the portfolios of top 2000 companies in the UK Healthcare industry! This clearly speak about its prospect of further growth in the coming future (Plimsoll).

The global leader of this industry is America, where it employs 13.5 million people as regular workers besides engaging 411,000 others in self-employment, where there are 545,000 establishments to run this industry (Health, 2007). According to the divisions made by the U.S. Department of Labour, Healthcare industry comprises of nine segments, and they are: Hospitals, Nursing and residential care facilities, Offices of the physicians, Offices of the dentists, Home health care services, Offices of other health practitioners, Outpatient care centres, Other ambulatory health care services and Medical and diagnostic laboratories. Together these divisions Healthcare industry in the U.S. is layered with four major categories of like Managerial, Professional, Service professional and Ministerial occupations, which cover 36 divisions of employers.

DIVISIONS IN BRIEF

Those nine divisions provide a somewhat identifiable shape of this industry, though they differ from each other in terms of operation. Thus a brief introduction of those divisions are given below:
Hospitals: They provide complete care stretched between diagnostic services to continuous nursing care. Some of them specializes in one or more branches of medical service, all the while providing services to both inpatients or outpatients. It is understandable that the size of hospitals and their range of services grossly depend on various other factors like location, goals, philosophy, need, management policy, rush of patients, or funding.
Nursing and residential care facilities: This deals more with personal care services, which can both be at home or at hospital.

Offices of the physicians: This division covers the major share of this industry, as the doctors (physicians and surgeons) have the scope to serve both as an employee of an organization and as a private practitioner.
Offices of the dentists: This sector also secures a good position in the industry, where most of its establishments make room for them.Home health care services: Once a small segment of the industry, this service is now growing rapidly with the growing number of senior citizens, its target market segment. Accordingly all its ancillary industries (various device-makers) are also growing.

Offices of other health practitioners: This segment is comprised of professionals who service both as professional and private practitioners of a particular service. Chiropractors, speech-therapists, optometrists, podiatrists, physiotherapist, psychologists, audiologists, pathologists, dietitians and the entire group of alternative medicine practitioners belong to this rank and file.
Outpatient care centres: This segment contains diverse establishments, practically covering anything diagnostics. This segment is a major player too – as most of the treatments are based on it.
Other ambulatory health care services: This is more or less belongs to the support system in the Healthcare industry, which deals with specific kind of transportation to its clients according to their needs – its service involves ambulance, blood or organ banks, or other ambulatory services like pacemaker monitoring services or anti-smoking programmes.Medical and diagnostic laboratories: This segment is the technical branch of the diagnostics – it analyses clinical data through devices or thorough culture. This segment perhaps has the lowest number of entrants in it.

PRESENT STATE

This industry is rapidly advancing towards many directions, mostly due to the advancement in the fields like medical research, technology related to medical devices and new approach towards the Healthcare by the customers. Newer inventions are facilitating cures to the complex ailments, and soon they are adding to the business prospects in the industry. The rush for gene therapy or organ transplants or to cosmetic surgery aptly corroborates this trend. Added to that, stunning developments in the information technology has also proved to be a blessing for this industry. Alongside, there are some noticeable changes in the approach and attitude are taking place in this industry, mostly due to fierce competition, where consumer is enjoying the privilege to determine the nature of service. It is because of this, the number of inpatients are getting thinner and the number of outpatients or in-home patients are increasing, comparing to the earlier times. Each one in the industry is bent on to prove its efficacy in many ways – ranging from cost-effective service to customized care programmes.

JOB ENVIRONMENT
Just like its diverse nature, its job environment also varies greatly, covering many occupations, many schedules and many types of workers. As mentioned earlier, this sector in the U.S. alone employs 13.5 million people directly besides its 411,000 indirect workers. Out of those, 41 per cent of holds positions in the hospitals, 22 per cent is engaged in nursing and residential care, while 16 per cent opts for the offices of physicians. The area of their operations is somewhat dense in the big states.

SKILL LEVELS
Though the doctors form the most identifiable section of this industry, the apex of it belongs to the management cadres, who are the decision makers of the large houses. However, according to a general scale, a considerable range of its employees are educated at least up to graduate level. However, technically skilled people do have their niche in this industry, such the home health aides, lab technicians, dental or medical assistants or experts in physiotherapy. Due to the flexibility of this industry, all of its members more or less have the options to go private rather than sticking to the job.

SCOPE FOR ADVANCEMENT
Since this is mainly a service industry sector, it always has room for improvement in any direction, besides having niches for almost all to enter in one way or the other. Even a lab technician here can be in great demand for his skills, which would speak more of him/her rather than the degrees at home. Accordingly, the job opportunities here are excellent for anyone interested! In U.S. alone, the employment growth in this sector is expected to add around 3.6 million new wage and salary jobs, which is 19 per cent of the existing total.Branch wise, employment in the home health aides branch is projected to record the fastest growth in this industry – which includes self-employment too.

INFLUENCE OF SOCIAL SITUATIONS
With the advancement of medical science, the average lifespan has increased, which has resulted in the larger number of senior citizens, This situation, coupled with the social trend of opting for unit family or fast and engaged lifestyle of the children of these senior citizens has made them increasingly dependent on the home health services or paid personal care.

If solitary sojourn has resulted the rise in home Healthcare services, the flashy lifestyle and hard competitions have brought in a new range of diseases, of which psychosomatic problems dominating the scene. This in turn has brought the psychologists and the counselors in the limelight ever than before. On the other hand, the constant upswing in the medical costs has forced 45 million U.S. citizens uncovered by any medical insurance and 250 million having only partial coverage (Medretreat, 2007). This situation is has opened another extension of Healthcare – Medical Tourism. This new offspring of Healthcare industry is arranging medical treatment of those U.S. citizens in the developing countries, where the medical expense is far cheaper than U.S., so much so that citizens who cannot afford to pay the insurance bill would be able to afford the luxury trips in the exotic locations in those countries. This new sector is also showing promise to rope in a good chunk of 350 million Americans who are willing to opt for cosmetic surgery (Medretreat, 2007).

Another interesting angle of social influence on this industry can be found in the rapid growth of the usage of alternative medicine, which contains services like teaching yoga or specific breathing techniques according to the ancient, oriental traditions. This trend has ushered in a new generations of healing or well-being specialists. According to the sources, the consumer group belonging to the age range of 30 to 55 are solidly backing the growth of this industry (Alternative, 2007). It has cited many reasons behind this new fad over alternative medicine, like its non-invasive nature, high cost of allopathic substitutes, or the ease in operation.

FUTURE SCOPES
As is the case of any other industry, the future of Healthcare industry is also dependent on two common factors like new discoveries and change in social situations. As far as new discoveries are concerned, this industry is brimming with possibilities, with newer avenues already identified with huge potentials. With the advancement in the gene technology there are indications of some new bends taking place in the near future. That would sure usher in new technologies, new line of medicines and overall new approach to this industry as well. This new phase of the industry might align with the hidden desires of the humans as well – desires like customized creation of the offspring or customizing the human behavioural process or for that matter, customizing the parts of the body – all these hidden desires of humans could surface with the advancement of biotechnology (The Future, 2007). In the event of such a possibility, the entire course of this industry might take a new route, of which no one can guess correctly.

CONCLUSION
The Healthcare industry presently seems to be more dynamic than any other industry, as it is evident in its constant ramification and rapid growth. The uniqueness of this industry lies in the fact that it can accommodate anyone irrespective of the standard yardstick of education, people can earn by being self-employed. This industry is blessed with the constant research and development movement, and thus never falls short ideas to create new niches of business. Alongside, social situations are also favouring its growth and sustenance with its tendencies. Paradoxically, the decline in the global environment has extended the horizon of this industry as well – there are more asthma patients than ever due to automobile pollution or there are more victims of sun radiation – all of whom have emerged out as the prospective clients. However, on the sunny side of it, the new-age culture of attaining physical and mental freedom has also started bringing up another branch of this industry into limelight – and that is, alternative medicine. As it is evident in the bulk presence of alternative medicines in the shelves of the medical shops, this segment has already made significant advancement in grabbing the market share, and is showing enough promise for the future. Altogether, the overall prospect of this industry is encouraging more than ever.

REFERENCES

  • "Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality." Website. Retrieved on Nov 21, 2007, 
  • "Alternative Medicine." Webzine. Retrieved on Nov 21, 2007, 
  • "Alternative Medicine Goes Mainstream." Web Article.
  • "Healing health care. Together." Webzine. 
  • "Health Care." 2007. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labour Statistics. 
  • "Healthcare." Website. Retrieved on Nov 21, 2007, 
  • "Healthcare industry." 2007. Web Article. Retrieved on Nov 23, 2007.

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