More than a third of physicians believe the quality of care they provide has worsened since the pandemic

The findings from the 2022 International Health Policy Survey reported that over a third of physicians in half of the surveyed countries perceive a decline in the quality of care since the COVID-19 pandemic underscore the profound impact the health crisis has had on global healthcare systems. The pandemic brought unprecedented challenges, including overwhelming patient loads, resource shortages, and the rapid need to adapt to new treatment protocols and safety measures. These strains not only disrupted routine healthcare services but also placed immense physical and psychological stress on healthcare providers. As a result, many physicians have struggled to maintain the standard of care they were able to provide pre-pandemic. The survey’s findings highlight the long-lasting effects of the pandemic on healthcare delivery, pointing to a pressing need for targeted interventions to support healthcare workers, rebuild healthcare systems, and ensure high-quality patient care in the post-pandemic world.

How can we resolve the crisis in healthcare, a crisis that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic?

“More than a third of the most satisfied physicians reported they were not able to provide the same quality of care after the pandemic as before according to the recent Commonwealth report. There was a study last year from the Survey Healthcare Group that corroborates this report when it showed 34% of physicians worldwide are seeing increased medical errors that they directly attribute to staffing shortages that are leading to increased burnout,” shares DoorSpace CEO Sarah M. Worthy.

The study by the Survey Healthcare Group reported that more medical errors are increasing, in addition to physicians not being able to spend time with their patients like physicians may wish to. The Survey Healthcare Group’s study, which points to an increase in medical errors and limited patient-physician interaction time, underscores a growing concern in the healthcare sector. The rise in medical errors can be attributed to various factors, including overworked staff, high patient volumes, and the increasing complexity of medical care. This situation is further aggravated by the fact that physicians are often unable to spend as much time with their patients as they would like, a crucial aspect for ensuring accurate diagnoses and effective treatment plans. The lack of sufficient interaction time not only hampers the quality of patient care but also contributes to the likelihood of errors, as hurried consultations may lead to oversight or miscommunication. These trends highlight the need for systemic changes in healthcare practices, such as better staffing ratios, streamlined administrative procedures, and enhanced focus on patient-centered care, to reduce the incidence of medical errors and improve overall healthcare quality.

“This data is really concerning, particularly for Americans because we are also seeing such huge turnover across our clinical workforce, a workforce that can take up to a decade to replenish. Many healthcare leaders are dragging their feet when it comes to investing in and prioritizing employee retention and development. As a result, we’re now seeing hospitals closing down because they’re unable to staff and maintain a financially viable hospital. This is only going to get worse until healthcare organizations are able to stop losing clinicians faster than they’re recruiting them,” states Worthy. 

The challenges highlighted by the 2022 International Health Policy Survey and the Survey Healthcare Group’s study reflect a critical juncture in the healthcare industry, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The increased medical errors, staffing shortages, physician burnout, and reduced time for patient care signal an urgent need for systemic reforms. Healthcare leaders must prioritize investing in employee retention and development, along with addressing the root causes of these issues. It is essential to create a more sustainable and supportive environment for healthcare workers to prevent further decline in healthcare quality. This includes improving working conditions, ensuring adequate staffing, enhancing training and support, and fostering a culture that values and supports the well-being of healthcare professionals. Only with these concerted efforts can the healthcare industry hope to overcome the current crisis and ensure the delivery of high-quality care to patients in the future.