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COVID-19 recovery for the health care ecosystem

Gearing up for the next normal

For the health care industry, the COVID-19 pandemic is more than a black swan event. It is a global experience that has forever changed the industry as we have known it in unprecedented ways.

The future accelerated

For nearly two years, we’ve been talking about the future of health, envisioning what health care might look like in 2040, how it might take shape, and the radical changes that would occur between now and then.

Seemingly overnight, the COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly changed the course of health care’s future. The health care ecosystem and the consumers it serves face an unfamiliar world of remote working, virtual doctor visits, and a supply chain marked by extreme shortages.

But perhaps the most significant force for change in health care’s future (beyond the pandemic itself) is consumer behavior. Consumer behavior will guide the reemergence of the sector. Grief, uncertainty, and fear will likely drive consumers to behave very differently in the recovery phase, enhancing the need to focus on meeting consumers where they are and delivering post-pandemic care on their terms.

What does this mean for the health care ecosystem not just today, but tomorrow? How will the decisions and investments organizations make now—in the midst of uncertainty—sow the seeds for the next normal and their ability to thrive in it? And will the new reality provide consumers the opportunity to receive high-quality, equitable care when it’s needed so they can focus on their long-term well-being?

Response challenges, lessons, and victories

The unprecedented speed and scope of the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing health care organizations to address many unexpected and critical challenges at the same time. As quickly as issues emerge, executives and their teams must find ways to address them—whether it be removing barriers in the supply chain, scaling technology to support patients and support virtual workers in innovative ways, or complying with new government mandates, along with waiver and relief policies. And while some of the steps that organizations take now may be effective as the crisis evolves, many will need to be reevaluated, revamped, or perhaps abandoned completely. That’s why it’s critical to have a clear picture of where organizations are now, how they got here, and what the last few months in response mode have taught leaders and health care organizations.

In this report, we look at four of the more critical and accelerated issues that many organizations are trying to address:

  • Virtual care
  • Workforce strategies
  • Supply chain
  • Scenario planning

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Recovery strategies: New opportunities in the next normal

As the world—and the health care ecosystem—starts to think about and plan for recovery, the only certainties are uncertainties. Opportunities to effect positive changes will emerge long-term. But it is critical for health care leaders to be tracking the lessons and liabilities of their ongoing response efforts and looking for the kernels of future opportunity—the actions and investments that could help their organization prepare for, and even shape, the next normal for health care. Scenario planning plays a critical role in this process and can help build the foundation for thriving in the future. Scenarios enable an organization to develop hypotheses about the range of divergent possibilities that may evolve. They serve as a framework for responding with more agility while formulating potential paths to value in the face of uncertainty.

As of this point in the pandemic, there are three areas where, as things continue to evolve, health care recovery may initially begin to take shape. Those include:

  1. Site-of-service and care model transformation
  2. Ubiquitous adoption of virtual care and telehealth
  3. Workforce reimagined: Strategies for recovery

During this time of rebuilding, there may be opportunities for health organizations to rethink the enterprise and accelerate transformation to seed future growth.


Create your own light at the end of the tunnel

For the health care industry, the COVID-19 pandemic is more than a black swan event. It is a global experience that has forever changed the industry as we have known it in unprecedented ways. Consumers’ trust has been eroded, and their anxiety, uncertainty, and grief will require ecosystem players to fundamentally transform the way that services are delivered if they are to effectively address the gaps exposed by this crisis and rebuild confidence in the system.

Despite the many devastating impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, it does present the health care sector with a powerful opportunity to innovate at a quicker pace and, in some ways, reinvent itself.

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