Emerging from COVID-19: Rethinking healthcare
The COVID-19 pandemic has given us all an opportunity to press the reset button and rethink our business and personal decisions. It has also created a watershed moment for the National Health Service (NHS) as it has been struck with PPE shortages and much more, it has provoked the rethinking of and restructure of how the essential services it provides are delivered to the general public.
The coronavirus pandemic is the most disruptive event that healthcare has ever faced accentuated by the challenge that the NHS was previously facing. In the middle of the pandemic, many incentives have allowed the NHS to respond to the crisis at pace, despite the challenges it was facing due to shortages and lack of support. Without knowing it, we saw the healthcare system transform almost overnight in order to enable remote working of the non-clinical workforce, such as admin.
As seen in IBM’s report of how to emerge smarter, there will be steps in place to rebuild the NHS after the troubles that it has faced during the pandemic. The first step required to re-establish the NHS is to simply understand the nature and the magnitude of the backlog. We will need to understand where patients are on their journey of care which will either be in pre-primary care, in primary care, or on a secondary care waiting list. The next step in this road map to recovery is the design of the recovery plans for each of these individual cohorts which will be based on risk models, balancing the risk of infection, local capacity and urgency of treatment. Addressing the backlog of cases will require creativity and patience. The final step in the recovery plan is a more sustainable long-term model which embeds some new ways of working. The healthcare industry will need to pre-plan and prepare for the possibility of a (almost inevitable) second wave of the coronavirus to prevent the NHS from being under such strain and pressure that it faced last time. Preventing a second wave of the pandemic will be beneficial for the NHS, public health, the economy and much more.
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