When we look back on 2020 in years to come, what will be our stand out memories? There will be a feature length episode of Reeling in the Years, that’s for sure! And there will be sad reminders of how many people lost their lives to COVID-19, how difficult it was for those working in healthcare and other essential services, as well as the fears and anxieties of those who contracted the disease and those cocooning at home.
But I think there will also be positives that we can take from this time, and here are some of mine:
- We can implement change very quickly when we put our minds to it. Keeping our patients’ needs at the forefront of our minds and acting with a shared purpose and sense of urgency have proved the perfect conditions for pivoting from predominantly face to-face ways of working to largely digital methods. From virtual consultations to team meetings and education sessions, HSCP adapted and embraced these new ways of working with a focus on solving problems and overcoming obstacles.
- There have been significant advances in digital across the health service in recent months. Initiatives that would ordinarily take years to implement have been accelerated across the health sector. This has included the rollout of telehealth – one of the recommendations of Slaintecare – and I hope that this is something that we evaluate, improve and continue to embed in our practice from triage to therapy beyond this pandemic. Other initiatives including electronic transmission of prescriptions to community pharmacies, Healthlink-enabled ordering of COVID-19 swabs, remote monitoring of pulse oximetry and contact tracing apps are great examples of technology helping us to work more efficiently. As someone currently undertaking an MSc in Digital Health Transformation, it has been inspiring to say the least.
- There has been much greater recognition that it really does take a village to run our healthcare services with the important contribution made by all highlighted and appreciated across society. In particular, fellow HSCP medical scientist colleagues have been recognised for the essential role they have played during the pandemic. They excelled over a very short period of time to develop and implement, at scale, the new test required to diagnose cases of COVID-19.
- The teamwork and willingness to help, both within and across institutions and healthcare settings, overcoming traditional boundaries and with people sharing their experiences and solutions to common problems must be preserved into the future.
- The collective leadership shown in the initial months was evident at all levels of the health service – everyone working together, motivated by a common purpose and taking responsibility for the service as a whole during this pandemic. We have seen that for leaders to be effective at this time of great uncertainty, we need clear, consistent and regular communication, empathy and compassion for staff and public and measured interventions that are revised and adapted with emerging evidence and as the situation evolves.
“By working compassionately, courageously and honestly, leaders can support and care for their staff so that they can save thousands of lives across our communities”
Michael West, The King’s Fund
Paul Reid has spoken of looking at how we deliver health services through a new lens now. While my observations are not all necessarily new, sometimes it takes a global pandemic to see what was always there.
Himalayas visible in the distance in India (April 2020)
What will you remember most from this period? Let us know below.
This Blog was written by Claire Browne, HSCP Integration Lead, CHI.