[Column] Nael Dabbagh: The regional healthcare sector must continue to be resilient to overcome new challenges
The last two years have had a profound impact on economies, education, and healthcare systems around the world. As a result, countries, businesses, and individuals have been forced to adapt.
One thing is very clear: there will always be change to what we consider the norm. We are – and will continue to be – faced with tough decisions, while striving to make progress.
The simple fact is that becoming resilient is the key to thriving amidst change. In this region, resilience is in our DNA. With some of the challenges we face, looking for the silver lining when an issue arises is normal. And it is our people who will ultimately drive our success.
The challenges we face today
Looking at the critically important global healthcare sector, COVID-19 has been one of – if not the – biggest disruptor of the era. As a result, the outcome has been an acceleration in the pace of technological change – what would previously take the industry years to implement is now taking only a few months, which is largely viewed positively.
However, while demand is increasing, supply chain issues and inflation -continue to crop up, adding to the increasing pressure on healthcare workers. These factors and others are influencing how business groups operate, make decisions, and develop strategies. Businesses have to constantly track changes within their own organizations and externally to stay on top of things. These external factors can be difficult as organizations do not control them but are certainly affected by them.
Using the unique example of the past two years, how can we navigate a world that will continue to bring challenges our way?
Surviving and thriving
In the MENAT region, we have learned to develop the resilience we need to deal with change and crises. We are good at adapting while still maintaining a sense of stability.
Some of us are motivated simply by being blessed with another opportunity to wake up each day. Some might say that each day brings new challenges, but those of us who are resilient say each challenge actually brings new opportunities and a chance to build upon what was accomplished the previous day.
For us, in the healthcare sector, we cannot just survive. We must thrive so that we can help clinicians improve patient outcomes. We must use our resilience to keep the patient at the center of everything we do.
Look at the flip side of the coin
Despite the obvious hardships and challenges the pandemic has brought to us, we must also look at the positive side. As mentioned earlier, innovation in healthcare has never been faster, more intelligent, or as dynamic.
The number of people in hospitals will be lower than before, with hospitals used only to treat the sickest of the sick. For others, we will see increased and sustained use of remote technologies such as remote patient monitoring and virtual consultations. Tools like these can help free up capacity in clinics and hospitals for the most serious cases. On the technology side, our customers are also asking us to work with them to make their machines and hospitals more productive. Digital solutions and AI-enabled machines can greatly support this to ensure staff, patients, and machines are present where they are needed most. COVID-19 has also demanded that we move quickly and that solutions be simple and intuitive.
All of these themes – virtual health, digital solutions, speedy implementation – have been goals in the healthcare industry for years. The silver lining, we have found is that COVID-19 has helped to accelerate this, despite its disruptions.
Focus on people and teams
The need to focus on our employees with empathy has only increased over the last few years. We must strive to better understand lives and circumstances beyond work and must realize that different generations are at different stages of their lives and have varying needs. There is no one size fits all.
Many employees have found a new way to look at work-life balance due to working from home. Things that were business-as-usual two years ago are now under scrutiny. Employees want, demand, and are getting greater flexibility and deeper fulfilment.
Organizations that have come through the pandemic are those that have put their people first and focused on the long run. They have found that investing in the talent you have, rather than experiencing a high rate of turnover and loss, is a better business model. It also shows customers and employees that you, as a leader, are committed to the future, rather than simply eyeing next month’s bottom line.
Companies also need to think about employees’ mental health, which has evolved over the last two years into a true business imperative. When we put mental health first, it can give -employees a sense of purpose and direction, the energy to develop and execute critical plans, and the ability to deal with change that is an inevitable part of our lives. There is a mountain of evidence showing that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing amongst employees are more productive and more successful.
By utilizing the resilience in our DNA, focusing on optimism, and having the humanity to see teams as people first, we can weather the changes that will continue to come our way.