Simulations are advisable in the preparation for future pandemics. Event 201, for example, a simulation held in October 2019 involving health officials, policymakers, and business leaders, formulated recommendations for a pandemic scenario, and this happened just two months before the onset of COVID-19. Yet despite preparations, we can never be really fully prepared although we definitely learn how to be “better prepared”.
Dr Miller highlighted the significance of data, decisiveness, flexibility, communication, and transparency in successful pandemic response. Johns Hopkins Hospital, for instance, leveraged learnings from Ebola, optimised existing COVID-19 data, cancelled elective surgeries, maximised use of building air handling capabilities, enhanced staffing, and built testing infrastructure, among other measures.
COVID-19 likewise accelerated emerging trends that will help redesign healthcare for the future. We’ve seen changes and improvements in the way we do healthcare, in particular, the capability of precision medicine to better inform care and of technology to provide better flexibility, the shift from being hospital-centred to more community-based care, leveraging the value of centralisation, and the impact partnerships will make.
All these learnings from COVID-19 will help us become more prepared in dealing with the next pandemic and in adapting to post-COVID healthcare.
- Hospital response must be data-driven, with quick decision-making and a willingness to pivot as new information becomes available.
- Communication and transparency are key to maintaining trust and quality care for patients. Communication has to float up and down the organization seamlessly.
- Technology and partnerships are the watchwords of the future.
- Telemedicine is definitely here to stay. We will find the right equilibrium/balance to using it.