The U.S healthcare and public health systems are faced by a wide range of challenges associated with quality of care, access to healthcare, cost containment, infrastructure and administration (Barrera , Bohr , and Torres, 2010). The health care system, according to Carr, (2010), demands for significant changes in addition to efficient and strong leadership in order to guide the necessary transformations.
Goldman and Dubow (2007) argue that the operational success of medical care system just like businesses and other economic sectors is dependent on the efficiency of the leaders as well as the stakeholders.
Health care reforms in the past decades has occurred as a result of managed care, integrated care, public-private partnership and managed competition (Wolper, 2004). However, these reforms have fallen short of the expectations of many. They have led to re-evaluation of the approaches pursued as well as a search for new policies.
Health care leaders and administrators however, have a role to bring about reforms in the health care sector.
Leadership and Health Care Administration
For any organization to run smoothly it needs quality leaders, as well as administrators who are devoted in their work. Health care system is just like any other business and therefore, requires quality leaders in order to provide maximum service to the community. The major role of health care leaders, according to Anderson (2006), is to lay down policies as well as to supervise delivery of service.
They have an obligation of tracking the trends of the ever changing health care industry in order to make sure that the health care system is always providing maximum service to the public (Volpp, 2007). In order to improve public health, hospital leadership should try as much as possible to bridge the divide that exists between managerial and clinical cultures (Anderson, 2006). They should also bridge the gap that exists between quality assurance and separate tasks of management.
Health care leaders, as asserted by Dixon, and Bilbrey (n.d), have a responsibility to enhance the quality of care delivered within health care facilities, and must also make sure that health care resources are used to their maximum potential. Contemporary health care systems are characterized by intricate challenges and opportunities (Barrera, Bohr and Torres, 2010), that call for health care professionals who possess outstanding leadership qualities.
The core competencies that are needed for effective healthcare leadership include: absolute knowledge of the health care system, business knowledge and skills, professionalism, excellent communication, problem solving skills, and relationship management. A competent health care leader should also be accountable, display excellent analytical thinking, innovative, collaborative and a team leader (Wolper, 2004).
Various leadership styles as indicated by Schwartz and Tumblin (2002), include: transactional and transformational leadership. Transactional leadership style involves mutual dependence in which the roles played by various parties are recognized. Transactional leadership often results in attainment of goals and delivery of rewards
The Report of the National Steering Committee on Hospitals and the Public’s Health made it clear that for health care systems to guarantee provision of quality healthcare they must look beyond the scope of the immediate sick (The Health Research and Educational Trust, 2006). Health care system needs a serious change of financial incentives both in private and public sectors. This report gives a clear description of the roles health care leadership must play in order to improve the United States health care system.
One of the recommendations made by this committee was to eliminate health care disparities. Research, according to BMA International Department (2007), reveals that members of the marginalized groups, the low income earners and the less educated are highly segregated in the provision of health care. Health care leadership must ensure that healthcare workers are culturally competent so as to deliver quality health care regardless of the cultural background of a patient.
The other recommendation made by this committee was to promote primary prevention. Each and every person is susceptible to chronic diseases. This committee made it clear that in order for risky behaviors in addition to environmental constraints that result in disease, debilitating conditions and death be prevented, health care providers both in public and private sectors must work in collaboration with community organizations (Barrera, Bohr and Torres, 2010). This collaboration would result in successful interventions for prevention of diseases.
The other recommendation made by this committee was to support restructuring of health care facilities as well as expanding the capacity of these facilities. Research reveals that currently the health care system is underfunded and undermanned and therefore, it is unable to meet the ever increasing demands of the growing population (Barrera, Bohr and Torres, 2010). The future of the United States depends on the health of its citizens. Public health can only be guaranteed through expansion health care programs aimed at eliminating preventable diseases.
The recommendations offer guidance on the way leaders can develop and deliver novel strategies for healthcare facilities involvement in these critical areas. The recommendations also provide a ground on which health care discussions in addition to tactical planning with reference to health care promotion as well as disease prevention at local, regional, and national level can be carried out (Barrera, Bohr and Torres, 2010).
Health care facilities are provided with a ground on which they can initiate collaboration with private organizations. As an example hospitals can work together with a soap manufacturing company in the fight against infectious skin diseases. Hospital management can decide to give every patient presenting with skin-based infections who visits their facilities a bar soap.
The United States health care system is currently faced by a wide range of challenges that call for rational policies in addition to competent leadership. The major role of health care leadership is to lay down policies as well as to supervise delivery of service. Health care leaders have a responsibility to enhance the quality of care delivered within health care facilities, and must also make sure that health care resources are used to their maximum potential. In order to guarantee quality public health, health care leadership must promote primary prevention, support restructuring of health care facilities as well as expanding the capacity of these facilities and eliminate health care disparities
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