Date of Award

Fall 1-6-2017

Degree Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Terry Pechacek

Second Advisor

Dr. Scott Weaver

Abstract

The Bahamas is faced with the challenge of delivering cost-effective and quality healthcare within an integrated system. About 70% of the population is uninsured, making primary care out of reach to those who cannot afford to pay out of pocket (Understanding NHI, 2016). Despite healthcare accounting for 7.7% of the country’s GDP in 2014, the quality of care and access to care are still challenging in The Bahamas (Health Expenditure, n.d.). As the population continues to age, chronic non-communicable diseases are also the leading cause of morbidity and mortality. The lack of access to primary care due to persons being uninsured places a burden on the emergency room services. After the uninsured Bahamians have obtained coverage under National Health Insurance (NHI), meeting the need for primary care requires physicians to collaborate and agree on strategies to maximize the roles of both licensed and non-licensed healthcare professionals. They should also develop quality measures to improve both access and quality of primary care.

Primary care, Electronic Health Records (EHRs), and End of Life Care (EoLC) are only three of the many areas that The Bahamas can focus on to improve the quality, integration and cost-effectiveness of healthcare.This capstone will be an initial analysis of these three areas of NHI and similar analyses need to be conducted in other areas for a comprehensive reformation of the healthcare system. These other areas may include telemedicine, preventative care, examining the role of behavioral health in combatting chronic non-communicable diseases, and the role mental health professionals in EoLC.

The Bahamas currently has no national electronic system for recording patient health information. Many healthcare practices use paper records that are more difficult to share across an archipelagic healthcare system. The adoption of EHRs can improve the coordination, quality, productivity, and efficiency of care. After an analysis of the population needs, costs, and the development of objectives for meaningfully using EHRs in The Bahamas, the nationwide adoption should be considered using an incentive program.

Lastly, there is very little awareness, education, and advanced planning for End of Life Care (EoLC) in The Bahamas. The incorporating of EoLC planning into NHI should make provisions for the delivery of quality hospice and palliative care. The Bahamas must also focus on raising awareness through education and emphasizing the goal EoLC to preserve human dignity by honoring the patient’s dying wishes.

A comprehensive reformation of the healthcare system will require the collaboration of health providers, governmental legislators, public and private healthcare organizations, and community leaders to develop programs and action plans for the improvement of health challenges in the country. In this capstone, lessons learned from the American healthcare system as well as implementation barriers will then be evaluated. Lastly, solutions to these issues will be proposed for the improvement of the delivery of primary care, the effective adoption EHRs, and the implementation EoLC which are key features of NHI in The Bahamas.

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