Economic, Legal, and Political Factors Affecting Patient Outcomes
Due to escalating healthcare costs, health institutions around the world are establishing models that optimize patient outcomes. A focus on patient outcomes has also been instigated by an increasing demand for better care by informed patients, more healthcare regulations, rising cases of medical malpractice litigation, and stiff competition among providers. Consequently, medical facilities have embarked on promoting more well-informed treatment, encouraging optimal treatment planning, ensuring greater transparency, and enhancing care continuity. While healthcare organizations strive to achieve the above, there are economic, legal, and political factors that impact patient outcomes.
Economic factors like employment and income are strong determinants of health factors like health status, healthcare expenditures, life expectancy, mortality, and morbidity. Economic stability dictates significant health factors like housing, food, education, and access to medical care (Razi, 2017). Patients with low income might be unable to seek quality healthcare due to associated higher costs. For instance, economically unstable patients with chronic illnesses like diabetes, kidney failure, or cancer may resolve to cheaper treatments that only focus on treating symptoms and relieving the pain, which ends up jeopardizing their conditions. Even though such economically disadvantaged patients can access medical insurance, the insurance cover may be limited to certain diseases or costs, which can inconvenience their treatment, thus, affecting health outcomes. Since food and living conditions are essential in patients’ recovery, economically disadvantaged patients may lack the money for buying the required nutritious foods to boost their health and enhance recovery. Also, bad living conditions like polluted environments and poor ventilated rooms can exacerbate patients’ conditions, thus, poor health outcomes. Lastly, economic status influences literacy levels due to access to education. Poor patient outcomes have been associated with low literacy levels because patients lack the knowledge of practicing what is favorable to their health conditions.
Legislative requirements play a significant role in patient outcomes because they determine healthcare access and quality of healthcare. Health bills like rights of patients, employment laws, and direct payments influence patients’ accessibility to care and the quality of services offered. For instance, health bills like Medicaid, Medicare, and SCHIP are aimed at improving accessibility to healthcare. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the United States allows patients with pre-existing conditions to access health insurance (FamiliesUSA, 2017). ACA also guarantees children up to 26 to receive coverage on their parents’ plans, expands Medicaid program to low-income families, promotes preventive care, and improves the coverage for mental health and substance use disorder (FamiliesUSA, 2017). Countries with weak legal health provisions expose individuals to poor quality health services or limit their access to health services, which in turn leads to poor patient outcomes.
While factors impacting patient outcomes have been intensively studied, political factors have received scarce attention. Political factors like government stability, levels of bureaucracy and corruption, and tax policies greatly impact patient outcomes (HealthKnowledge, 2017). Unstable governments are less likely to provide excellent medical services and policies, which leads to poor patient outcomes. High levels of bureaucracy and corruption in medical systems subject patients to limited or poor health services. Also, unfavorable tax policies are likely to increase medical care costs, which may in turn inconvenience economically unstable patients.
Economic, legal, and political factors greatly influence patient outcomes. Economic stability determines factors like healthcare accessibility, quality of care, education, food, and living conditions, which contribute to patient outcomes. Also, legal and political factors like health bills and government policies and stability determine medical accessibility and quality, hence, patient outcomes.
FamiliesUSA. (2017). 5 ways the Affordable Care Act is helping real people. FamiliesUSA. Retrieved from https://familiesusa.org/5-ways-affordable-care-act-helping-real-people
HealthKnowledge. (2017). The impact of political, economic, socio-cultural, environmental and other external influences. HealthKnowledge. Retrieved from https://www.healthknowledge.org.uk/public-health-textbook/organisation-management/5b-understanding-ofs/assessing-impact-external-influences
Razi, R.R. (2017, May). Socioeconomic factors: Affect on health care outcomes. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Retrieved from https://residency-scal-kaiserpermanente.org/healthpolicyelective/wp-content/uploads/sites/8/2016/04/Dr.-Razi-Socioeconomic-Factors-Affecting-Healthcare-Outcomes.pdf