Healthcare Innovation: Lessons from the Pandemic and Preparing for the Future

The world will never be the same after the COVID-19 pandemic and while many sectors were forced to adapt, the healthcare sector experienced the biggest impact of all. Healthcare has always needed innovation and the pandemic proved to be a significant catalyst of this change with the industry’s response demonstrating its resilience and ability to bring innovations to market quickly.

The world will never be the same after the COVID-19 pandemic and while many sectors were forced to adapt, the healthcare sector experienced the biggest impact of all. Healthcare has always needed innovation and the pandemic proved to be a significant catalyst of this change with the industry’s response demonstrating its resilience and ability to bring innovations to market quickly.

The sector has experienced a successful shift from sustaining core operations to rapid innovation that saved lives and reduced the impact of the pandemic. Pharmaceutical companies have developed vaccines in record time with complex supply chains while digital acceleration has changed the way industry professionals and patients engage. Additionally, hospitals have had to adapt how they can care for patients in highly-contagious environments with the added challenge of equipment and staff shortages.

These changes have forced healthcare organisations to think on their feet and accelerate innovation timelines that would typically take months, if not years, to implement.

While the results of their efforts have been a success, maintaining this momentum and continuing to prioritise innovation for the future is vital. 

According to a recent survey of 100 healthcare leaders by McKinsey & Company, 90% agreed that the pandemic will fundamentally change the way they do business, requiring new products, services, processes and business models.

The Future of Healthcare Innovation

Regardless of the pandemic, healthcare decision-makers are constantly under pressure to deliver quality care solutions with limited resources. The pandemic has added to these pressures and highlighted the importance of a continuous need for innovation within the sector.

The World Health Organisation Innovation Group (WHIG) has said that innovation “responds to unmet public health needs by creating new ways of thinking and learning” and “aims to add value in the form of improved efficiency, effectiveness, quality, sustainability and/or affordability”. 

Healthcare innovation encompasses a wide variety of opportunities to increase efficiency and improve the level of care provided for patients. 

In today’s digital world, healthcare innovation is tightly interconnected with digital transformation. To remain competitive and appeal to both patients and staff, many organisations have recognised the importance of needing to adopt new technologies to replace or improve old methods. 

From new platforms for virtual appointments with patients, platforms for healthcare professionals to communicate with each other, advanced surgical technologies or digital solutions to simplify how administrative tasks are carried out - the benefits of new technologies have the potential to impact the whole organisation.

Another significant issue that cannot be overlooked is the mental health and well-being of healthcare workers. This has become increasingly evident in recent years, however, the impact of the pandemic has exacerbated these issues, especially for workers on the frontline. The World Health Organisation estimates around 18 million health workers will leave the sector by 2030, adding a significant strain to the system further. 

Therefore, the role of healthcare leaders is not only to establish ways to improve efficiency and patient care but to also improve the well-being of the workforce.  To further support this, the Government outlines in their recent Build Back Better report that they will provide £500 million in new funding for health wellbeing resources to help staff recover from their role in supporting the country through the pandemic. This includes offering services such as counselling, peer-to-peer coaching and workplace improvements.

By implementing cutting-edge technology, digital acceleration and new ways to support the workforce, improvements can be made across a wide variety of healthcare challenges. New products can be created, services can be improved and the retention of the workforce can be increased. 

Healthcare innovation requires organisations to transform their operations—and their mindsets. Continuing to adapt only when faced with a crisis such as the pandemic will not help organisations grow in the future.

History tells us that when organisations invest in innovation during a crisis, they can outperform their peers in the recovery. While the short-term challenges of today need to be tackled, healthcare leaders also need to consider the long-term vision and potential risks of the future to build a more effective and efficient system.

At SimplyDo we help large organisations make an impact by providing the infrastructure to capture, prioritise and action great ideas.

Read our recent case study to see how we helped bring innovative suppliers and healthcare together to solve some of our biggest challenges.

Joseph Murphy
Head of Growth