Life expectancy is on the increase; meanwhile, there is a general fall in birth rates in many countries today. In this light, the need for hospitals and long-term care facilities has become increasingly pressing. Long-term care facilities provide extensive, rehabilitative and medical care to people with severe health challenges that require hospital-level care for a relatively long period of time (American Hospital Association, 2009). Long-term care facilities, which may include nonprofit and for-profit hospitals, as well as nursing homes, play major roles in providing this extensive, rehabilitative and medical care. This paper describes the major differences between nonprofit and for-profit hospitals, identifies and describes a few major trends that have occurred within the health sector in the United States, as well as most countries of the world. It further highlights some examples that describe and differentiate the roles of hospitals and nursing homes in providing long-term care, and critiques the present state of long-term care policy in the U.S.
Differences between Nonprofit and For-profit Hospitals
Nonprofit and for-profit hospitals both work towards providing health care services to the public; however, marked differences do exist between them. For-profit hospitals typically pay close attention to the experience of patients, featuring impressive and attractive facilities, and minimal wait times; whereas, nonprofit hospitals tend to pay closer attention to society and spend on their welfare, rather than being concerned about their appearance (Sloan, 2000).
For-profit hospitals are to a greater extent, reactive to alterations in service profitability than non-profit hospitals. For-profit hospitals tend to provide comparatively profitable medical services, whereas, nonprofit hospitals tend to provide comparatively unprofitable medical services (Horwitz, 2005). Several researches have revealed that for-profit hospitals focus on cardiac and surgical-related services, which are generally known to generate more profit.
Nonprofit hospitals are exempted from paying tax; whereas, for-profit hospitals share economic earnings among shareholders. Writing & Media (2011) pointed out that nonprofit hospitals enjoy tax exemptions, as nonprofit hospitals usually accept patients irrespective of their payment ability. In a study on the United States health care system, Writing & Media (2011) also showed that both for-profit and nonprofit hospitals offered similar services in the U.S.; however, nonprofit hospitals offer these services more often and on a broader scale than for-profit hospitals.
Major Trends within the Hospital Sector
Over the years, several trends have emerged within the hospital sector in the United States and other countries. One of such trends that have occurred especially in the U.S. health and hospital sector is the emergence and utilization of the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) in place of the paper-based record system. Evans, Nichol & Perlin (2010) showed that the rate of adoption of EMR had grown by 9.9% from 2008 to 2009 in the United States. The EMRs allows electronic documentation of historic and present tests, recommendations, as well as medical treatments; and also permits healthcare practitioners to carry out tests and make prescriptions electronically.
Recently, Medicare reported that it would not pay for preventable infections that occur as a result of hospital errors (Pear, 2007). The U.S. is at the forefront in terms of compelling changes in its hospitals. This trend has reduced healthcare costs and saved lives as well. In addition, hospitals in the U.S. have recorded great success in improving their rates and minimizing catheter-related bloodstream infections, without the actual use of new and costly technologies.
Availability of advanced and innovative products is another trend that has emerged within the hospital sector. Hospitals in most parts of the world have maximized available innovative products to promote healthcare delivery to patients over the years. Hospitals around the world are challenged with the cost of healthcare. A widely known cause is the outgrowth and wide circulation of innovative and advanced medical technology. Payment shortages from unremunerated care and Medicare contribute to greater pressure on hospital finances.
Description and Differentiation of the Roles of Hospitals and Nursing Homes in Providing Long-Term Care
A nursing home can be defined as a place where patients who need steady nursing attention and possess substantial deficiencies in day-to-day activities, residents of the nursing home include both old and young people having mental or physical impairments. While a hospital can be defined as a healthcare institution that provides treatment to patients by trained health practitioners, and specialized equipment and facilities. Most caregivers in nursing homes are Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs); whereas, trained and skilled personnel provide care in hospitals (Tumosa, 2007).
Nursing homes offer Senior Nursing Facility (SNF) services. The SNF may be provided in a separate facility with relatively fewer beds. The separate facility is typically a component of a nursing home that deals with long-term care services, as well as Medicare SNF services (Tumosa, 2007). On the other hand, the hospital is typically a major healthcare institute characterized by many beds, as well as specialized equipment and facilities for long-term and intensive health care.
The current state of long-term care policy in the United States
Health care obtains more United States policy than long-term care; however, long-term care issues go a long way to affect every American and public program expenditure. Challenges in the present U.S. long-term care system exist, including unfulfilled needs and ruinous burdens between the impaired population, and disagreements among federal and state governments pertaining to who assumes duties for meeting them (Feder, Komisar & Niefeld, 2000). As the U.S. population grows older, the need to improve the system will increase, developing fundamental policy matters that include quality healthcare assurance, financing programs to make available low-cost protection, stability between organizational and non-organizational care, and consolidation of long-term and intense care (Feder, Komisar & Niefeld, 2000).
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