by June Kaminski, RN MSN PhD(c)
Editor in Chief
Citation: Kaminski, J. (2021). Shifting into Recovery – How Informatics can help. Editorial. Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics, 16(2). https://cjni.net/journal/?p=9056
A key outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic has been swift digitization of basic and advanced structures and processes across businesses, institutions, and organizations including health and education. It is widely assumed that this responsive infrastructure will continue to prevail in some capacity during the pandemic recovery and post-recovery phases.
A huge impetus for this continuation will be public demand. “First, customer behaviors and preferred interactions have changed significantly, and while they will continue to shift, the uptick in the use of digital services is here to stay, at least to some degree” (Baig et al, 2020, p. 1).
The Government of Canada (2021) provided a detailed plan for national recovery post-Covid that strongly focused on innovative digital growth. “We have identified four interconnected pillars, which could form the cornerstone of an industrial strategy and would have real economic impact across Canada’s provinces and territories, industrial sectors, and population. These included: becoming a digital and data-driven economy; being the ESG world leader in resources, clean energy technology; building innovative and high-value manufacturing where we can lead globally; and leveraging our agri-food advantage to feed the planet” (p. 10).
The Government of Canada (2021) outlined the importance of this in the health sector. “Fragmented health care system lacks interoperability & adds complexity to crisis management and rising mental health concerns exacerbated by COVID-19” (p. 1).
Another factor that supports technological evolution is the demand for future remote work. “The levels of remote working have skyrocketed during lockdowns and are likely to remain higher than pre-crisis levels for some time” (Baig et al, 2020, p. 1).
KPMG International (2021) presented a Covid 19 healthcare recovery framework that defined recovery as ‘returning to sustainable operations with high levels of preparedness for future potential waves of coronoavirus impacting providers and health systems” (p. 2). They further outlined that the goal should be to develop new care models to support delivery of care. This can be done by focusing on four key areas:
Digital Delivery – by scaling and sustaining new care models and adapting existing workflows and optimizing change
Workforce Agility – supporting healthcare professionals to adapt to new ways of working, reviewing labour force distribution and utilization
Resilient Operations – operationalize excellence to maximize capacity, and strengthen supply chains
Financial Recovery – establish planning for recovery, update and model financial position
McKinsey Company has “laid out an agenda that focuses on four efforts: refocusing and accelerating digital investments in response to evolving customer needs, using new data and AI to improve business operations, selectively modernizing technology capabilities to boost development velocity, and increasing organizational agility to deliver more quickly” (Baig et al, 2020, p. 2). All four of these efforts can be transposed to both healthcare organizations and health professional education (Figure 1).
Figure 1 Recovery Strategies to Focus on
Responding to Client (and Student) Needs
Positive input has been gathered from a wide variety of client and student populations that supports the flexibility and accessibility of digital access to both healthcare and education. Telehealth, mHealth and eHealth have all grown significantly during the pandemic and are predicted to continue post-recovery, at least to some degree. Likewise, blended or hybrid models of education for healthcare professionals are being looked at to continue to provide the benefits of at least partial online courses and programs.
An ecosystem approach can be used to improve operations on every level. “As protocols and standards increasingly normalize these connections, the CEO will need to help guide which ecosystems can drive the greatest value for the business and how to navigate the implications for customer relationships, data sharing, and intellectual property—key sources of advantage in the digital age” (Fitzpatrick et al, 2020, p. 4).
Using new data and AI to improve operations
“In the past, it has taken a decade or longer for game-changing technologies to evolve from cool new things to productivity drivers. The COVID-19 crisis has sped up that transition in areas such as AI and digitization by several years” (Sneader, & Singhal, 2021, p. 3).
The rise of telehealth and eHealth over the past year has spurred the adoption of more sophisticate datasets, AI and analytics into the healthcare arena. In recovery, organizations “should push their data and analytics teams to develop next-generation models that leverage new data sets and modeling techniques better suited for fast-changing environments” (Baig et al, 2020, p. 3). “To get the full value from data in the future, it will be important to retrain algorithms based on new realities” (Fitzpatrick et al, 2020, p. 3).
Improving Technology Capabilities in healthcare
Healthcare and education can continue to benefit from the surge of technological use by improving technology capabilities to enable more robust delivery and access. This can be done quite cost effectively by “setting up or enhancing a cloud-based data platform and equipping agile teams with automated software delivery” (Baig et al, 2020, p. 4). This includes improving cybersecurity and user training to ensure safe and confidential operations.
It is important that organizations embrace the value of technology, looking beyond just function and cost. “CEOs have a leading role to play now in expanding that definition to include value creation as well as flexibility, cybersecurity, and resiliency” (Fitzpatrick et al, 2020, p. 3).
Improving Organizational Agility
Agility has become a buzzword during the pandemic as healthcare organizations and educational institutions have scrambled to meet the demands of the crisis. “The nature of the crisis has required teams to act quickly amidst uncertainty, make decisions with limited oversight, and react to fast-changing situations” (Fitzpatrick et al, 2020, p. 2).
Agile organizations have a foundation or backbone that “binds structural stability (standard operating procedures) to cultural stability (shared purpose, direction, and values); it also supports dynamic capabilities (for instance, fluid changes to strategy and team setup) in order to respond quickly to fast-changing conditions” (Aghina et al., 2020, p. 1).
According to Aghina et al., (2020) “to increase the level of enterprise agility, companies face implementation choices across five operating-model dimensions” (p. 2)
These five dimensions include:
- Strategy – a shared purpose and vision embodied across the organization
- Structure – a network of empowered teams
- Process – rapid decision and learning cycles
- People – dynamic people model that ignites passion
- Technology – next-generation enabling technology
This includes how employees and students are trained in a variety of skills. “Training itself is likely to see profound change. Before COVID-19 hit, most companies struggled to get online learning to work. The new world of remote working, however, is acclimatizing people to the tools and processes that are core to distance education. This represents an opportunity for training to scale the programs built for how people actually learn best: shorter, “bite size” learning modules tailored to the individual and delivered when they’re needed as part of a thoughtful learning journey. CEOs should prioritize remote boot camps, self-serve modules, simulations, and collaborative learning environments supplemented by a rigorous certification program and in-field trials to accelerate how teams learn (Fitzpatrick et al, 2020, p. 3). “In parallel, assess where remote work models could unleash productivity benefits” (Baig et al, 2020, p. 4).
To evaluate the effectiveness of agile enterprises, Aghina et al., (2020, p. 3) suggest that “we can broadly synthesize the key outcome metrics into the four categories that compose the structure of the agile impact engine:
- Customer satisfaction – clients and students become the key focus, ‘the North Star’ of the healthcare or educational organization
- Employee engagement – a nonhierarchical approach means employees can develop a strong sense of autonomy, mastery, and purpose
- operational performance – productivity,planning time, system implementation
- financial performance – costs, budget balance, savings, investments
All in all, informatics in the form of theory, skill, software, and infrastructure is a key foundation for post-Covid recovery and must be harnessed within both healthcare and education to ease the transition and optimize performance.
Aghina, W., Handscomb, C., Ludolph, J., Róna, D. & West D. (2020). Enterprise agility: Buzz or business impact? McKinsey Digital. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/enterprise-agility-buzz-or-business-impact
Baig, A., Hall, B., Jenkins, P., Lamarre, E. & McCarthy, B. (2020). The COVID-19 recovery will be digital: A plan for the first 90 days. McKinsey Digital. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-digital/our-insights/the-covid-19-recovery-will-be-digital-a-plan-for-the-first-90-days
Fitzpatrick, M., Gill, I., Libarikian, A., Smaje, K. & Zemmel, R. (2020). The digital-led recovery from COVID-19: Five questions for CEOs. McKinsey Digital. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-digital/our-insights/the-digital-led-recovery-from-covid-19-five-questions-for-ceos
Government of Canada (2021). Restart, recover, and reimagine prosperity for all Canadians. https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/062.nsf/eng/00118.html#s-1.4
KPMG International. (2021). COVID-19: Recovery and resilience in healthcare. https://home.kpmg/xx/en/home/industries/healthcare/covid-19-and-healthcare/covid-19-recovery-and-resilience-healthcare.html
Sneader, K. & Singhal, S. (2021). The next normal arrives: Trends that will define 2021—and beyond. McKinsey Digital. https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/leadership/the-next-normal-arrives-trends-that-will-define-2021-and-beyond