Covid’s broadly impacted healthcare systems and their stakeholders. Hospitals were the most critical and hardest hit components on the frontlines. They will also present the toughest challenge in preparing for future disruptions including pandemics. History suggests that adding excess capacity ‘just in case’ is not a financially sustainable strategy.
These issues were raised two decades ago in the aftermath of 9/11, when the US considered improving community preparedness in part by expanding local clinics and hospitals. I was a member of a University of Colorado research team that engaged community leaders on these issues. Surprisingly, we noted that towns were not always eager to expand their healthcare facilities at government expense. In practice, expansion meant hiring more doctors, nurses, and support staff that would be underutilized except in crisis situations. It was impractical and unsustainable.
These are important lessons going forward as hospitals strive to improve preparedness. I’ll share more lessons and insights for identifying innovative sustainable solutions in my next post.