Managers are charged with the responsibility of monitoring both the internal and external environment of their organizations in order to anticipate changes, which could have both positive and negative implications on organizational performance. The future is uncertain and therefore presents both opportunities and challenges for healthcare organizations. The economy is also very dynamic and as such, it is difficult to predict future economic trends. However, past trends and the prevailing circumstances are a likely indicator of a bleak future for the healthcare industry. The escalating cost of energy has been responsible for increasingly high operating costs, which will soon prove to be a menace in the industry. Additionally, healthcare management personnel will be faced with the challenge implementing sustainable supply chain management, which is vital for organizational success but at the same time represents an additional operating cost. Many healthcare institutions have consequently resorted to contracting as a mechanism of managing these costs. Research has however shown that this mechanism is no longer effective (Parker and DeLay 2008, 66). To the contrary, lack of centralization has resulted in higher operating costs. Future healthcare managers will be faced with the challenge of solving this problem and implementing new systems that facilitate virtual centralization.
Results from the 2010 annual Energy Efficiency Indicator (EEI) survey revealed that organizational energy management remains a top priority for leaders especially in the healthcare industry (Smith 2011, 98). Healthcare institutions are faced with astronomical energy costs occasioned by use of sophisticated medical equipment for patient care. This comes even as energy costs are projected to increase significantly in the near future. Despite the fact that they are cognizant of the significance of energy management, most managers are not in a position to finance facility improvements aimed at enhancing energy efficiency. Future managers will therefore be faced with the challenge of implementing energy efficient systems in order to minimize operating costs and enhance the overall profitability of healthcare institutions. They will also have to explore several ways of reducing costs ranging from efficient lighting to renewable sources of energy such as solar power.
Another incentive for energy management is sustainable supply chain management, which has become quasi-mandatory over the past decade (Smith 2011, 99). The green movement has taken off and soon every organization will be required by the law to engage in sustainable supply chain management. Besides society and employee expectations for health institutions to implement increased sustainability standards, most governments are bound to formulate stringent policies to inhibit or discourage activities that cause harmful effects to the environment. Currently, a burgeoning number of health institutions are voluntarily seeking to have their buildings certified to recognized green building standards. In the future, such initiatives might be made compulsory. Apart from energy management, future healthcare mangers will also be forced to come up with ways of reducing the carbon footprint of their organizations by minimizing the pollution effects of their supply chains. Corporate social responsibility is also another critical aspect of sustainable supply chain management, which will have to be taken into account by future managers. They will for instance not only have to engage in responsible sourcing but also ensure that tenders are awarded fairly and ethically.
Finally, because contracting has proven to be inefficient in managing operating costs, future healthcare management personnel will be prompted to adopt centralized virtual systems (Parker and DeLay 2008, 66). To achieve this, they will have the uphill task of integrating healthcare institutions from the market perspective as opposed to that of the health system. This will entail the creation of consolidated service centers that will be managed and jointly owned by several hospitals and healthcare systems. Hospitals located in one geographical area will be required to form a single entity that will centralize procurement, contracting, logistics and distribution. Although this system has been lauded for its numerous cost saving benefits, its successful implementation throughout an entire country can be quite challenging. Moreover, the consolidated service centers will be susceptible to bureaucracy, which is counterproductive.
To conclude, some of the future challenges for healthcare management include the rising cost of energy, mandatory engagement in sustainable supply chain management and the integration of healthcare institutions to form consolidated service centers. Rising energy cost will force future managers to identify alternative means of enhancing efficiency in energy utilization. Furthermore, sustainable supply chain management might be compulsory in future resulting in increased operating costs. Finally, integrating the healthcare system will not only be an uphill task for future managers but might also be characterized by some drawbacks such as bureaucracy.
Parker, Jeff, and Dan DeLay. 2008. “The future of the healthcare supply chain .” Healthcare Financial Management: 66-69.
Smith, Richard. 2011. “Energy management opportunities and challenges for the healthcare industry .” Healthcare Financial Management: 98-102.