Since its inception Partners HealthCare International’s unique calling has been to work in health care and education environments undergoing change. In the developed countries of Western Europe we have seen health systems attempt to confront the challenges posed by aging populations, the ever-rising prevalence of chronic disease, and the growing complexity of systems. The emerging economies—places like China, India, and the Middle East—have seen rapid transformation over the last half century. The demographics of disease have shifted, patient demands have changed, and the pressures on health care systems—both government-run and privately operated---greater than ever.
At the same time, health care delivery, health professional education, and biomedical research have continued to evolve and advance. Each locale where we develop a new relationship or create a new program is different. Yet we can point to a handful of challenges that form the common themes in our work with partners around the world:
Changes in Disease Burden and Demography
- Increased chronic disease prevalence
- Increasingly sophisticated health care consumers demanding high-quality care close to home
- Interest in attracting patients beyond borders
Regulatory and Environmental Changes
- Shifting role of governments as a provider of health care services
- Entry of private health care providers and proliferation of public-private partnerships
- Emphasis on social mission and community stewardship
- Development of new payer models to support access to care
Growth of Health Care System Complexity
- Huge capital investments outpacing human resource development
- Fragmented systems in clinical care and education
- Increased need for sophisticated health information technologies to knit together regional networks
- Need for health care planning to foster operational efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability as patient needs evolve and advances in medicine emerge
Transition and Need in the Health Workforce
- Shortages of qualified physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals
- Shortages of quality schools to train these professionals
- Changing professional roles
- Recognized need for team-based care, multidisciplinary care, and other patient care models
- Workforce nationalization initiatives
Around the world health care delivery is changing rapidly and these advances place enormous pressure on health care delivery systems in both the public and private sphere.
The challenges confronting health care systems around the world are intertwined with the need to educate and train qualified professionals. As new hospitals are built this need becomes glaringly obvious.
Health care institutions have an important role to play as stewards of the communities and populations they serve. Academic medical centers serve as local and regional hubs for scientific discovery, innovation, and workforce development.