Healthcare is becoming complicated every day. Like every other industry, modern technology and rapid digitalizing are making things complex. Moreover, the fragmented service reduces collaboration and increases costs. Furthermore, the aging global population is developing more chronic issues which require better care. However, stop-gap measures to fix these issues have made things worse. While public health and integration are proposed as solutions to improve patient outcomes, getting there is challenging. Modern healthcare leaders have to juggle several healthcare institutions, including employed physician groups and professional services groups. Besides, modern consumers have a unique approach to healthcare. They are actively participating in care decisions by comparing care options. But, the healthcare sector thrives on collaboration. Patients must have adequate information to make better decisions.
Unfortunately, the complexity of healthcare is causing a breakdown in the relationship between stakeholders. These stakeholders include patients, payers, and providers. Patients are those individuals who are seeking care for an illness. Comparatively, providers are organizations or individuals that try to improve care. Lastly, payers are insurance companies or other organizations that provide payment for medical services.
Healthcare leaders, such as managers, can perform a vital role in managing the roles and relationships. But, these managers must have the soft skills to resolve ethical dilemmas. Fortunately, some graduate-level degrees provide skills for modern innovations. For instance, programs such as a masters in healthcare management can hone negotiation and leadership skills.
However, sometimes healthcare executives must juggle competing values, including professional and societal values. Healthcare leaders also have to manage resource limitations, cost-related issues, and dwindling profit margins. These opposing responsibilities often put healthcare executives in a challenging position. They must not only address the ethical dilemmas, but they must also follow a sound decision-making process while doing so.
Role of healthcare managers in addressing ethical challenges:
Several issues require ethical decision-making from healthcare leaders. While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act addresses several issues, other problems require introspection.
For example, the high cost of care begets an ethical dilemma for financially struggling individuals. According to the census, more than 46.3 million people do not have any insurance. On the other hand, medical personnel cannot deny care to patients because they cannot pay. Most hospitals have to shift costs and increase charges to individuals with insurance. Healthcare managers can ask their patients to obtain health insurance to avoid this situation.
Another dilemma is when healthcare leaders have to ration healthcare services according to the age of the patients. Seniors require more expensive treatments and healthcare services compared to people under 65 years. Therefore, younger patients have lower premiums and use limited services. Healthcare leaders must make decisions that transform and support change within the sector. Healthcare leaders should use ethical decision-making to answer questions of economic influences.
How can leaders improve ethical decision-making?
Health care is a rapidly evolving field. Therefore, all stakeholders must be adaptable to change.
Leaders have a novel position to set the ethical tone for their organization. By educating employees about the ethics of healthcare, managers can prove their commitment to ethical standards. Healthcare managers must include physicians, boards, and others in their educational programs. They must also introduce resources to address ethical conflicts. Unlike direct care professionals, executives have to address these issues at a micro and macro level.
The primary concern must be to offer a culture of ethical practices and decision-making. To this end, executives must communicate their commitment to the foal through mission statements. They must also introduce a code of ethics for clinical and administrative settings.
However, all organizational resources addressing ethical issues should be readily available. These resources should not be limited to one group. Ethics committees may include representatives from every team working at the healthcare facility, including physicians, managers, and social workers. The diversity will bring valuable perspectives to discussions on ethical dilemmas.
Developing trust can improve leadership during ethical dilemmas. When staff, providers, patients, and payers trust each other, they perform better. They also build shared goals and principles. Most stakeholders have a common goal. But, they do not have similar perceptions about how to achieve it. For example, physicians value autonomy on treatment plans. However, payers want to reduce the cost of care through collaboration. Sometimes, patients may prefer to play an active part in their treatment. But the physicians will have to sacrifice autonomy for that. Furthermore, the emotional state of patients may create conflict between stakeholders.
Healthcare leaders have to improve cooperation between various healthcare relationships. Therefore, they must share, describe and reinforce the benefits of working together. Furthermore, leaders must communicate and clarify ethical standards. They also have to warn decision-makers about the consequences of failure to collaborate. These processes can quickly become adversarial and confrontational. A competent leader helps stakeholders focus on similarities to develop mutual respect.
Effect of leadership during ethical dilemmas:
Through competent leadership, healthcare managers can promote better decision-making by balancing several problems. They can also improve the process to address issues and promote a culture of ethical practice. Usually, there is a lot of uncertainty around addressing ethical issues. With transformative leadership, healthcare managers can provide much-needed clarity to stakeholders.
Effect of policy on ethical decision making:
Some laws and regulations may conflict with the ethics of stakeholders. For example, the New York Palliative Care Information Act requires physicians to offer end-of-life options to terminally ill patients. This law conflicts with the Hippocratic Oath. Healthcare leaders believe that reform is a balancing act between the principles of social justice and national identity. So, leaders must choose their battles carefully.
Leaders like healthcare managers and policymakers must be center stage in modern healthcare. They must have the courage to act ethically. Not only do healthcare leaders have to navigate complex relationships, but they also have to juggle the demands of different stakeholders. The fragmented and weak healthcare system cannot survive significant changes. Therefore, it is upon healthcare leaders to bring change from within. They must be willing to discuss and process ethical issues to improve decision-making. This decision will encourage patients to become vocal and improve health care decisions. The time to act is now.