Without question the COVID period has seen some remarkable transformation and innovation in the Healthcare sector. A lot of this innovation has taken place rapidly and been completed in weeks rather than years. As we all look at the future post COVID, do we really want everything to go back to how it was, particularly innovation in healthcare?

New research suggests that small-scale improvisation is the bedrock of innovation in Healthcare. The paper argues that most innovations are small and incremental improvements rather than the radical and strategic change which is more associated with ‘innovation’. We’ve seen many of these ‘work around’ innovations with the explosion of Telehealth as an example.

The question that the authors pose is whether we can create these conditions to continue this improvised innovation to continue post COVID?

Some of the keys themes that came out were that the pandemic created a real sense of community as people rallied to find solutions to work around the pandemic. Healthcare workers were applauded (literally) for their contribution and it became a real badge of honour. We also saw some formal regulations lifted that allowed rapid innovation.

Other aspects included more junior staff being involved in innovation, which in part removed the mind set of this is the ‘way we do things’. Due to a shortage of workers, as others were diverted to deal with the increase volume of patients, the team sizes reduced and therefore there were less people to co-ordinate and approve change, which sped things up more.

In short it appears that as the ‘chains’ were lifted, less bureaucracy, focus on outcomes, smaller teams, less management, more openness to experiment and fail we’ve seen some extraordinary innovations. There are definitely aspects that we can take moving forwards and look to the new future rather than go back to things as they were.