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Healthcare Leadership in Times of Crisis: Lessons Learned from COVID-19

The Impact of COVID-19 on Saudi Arabia

When the first case of COVID-19 was announced in Saudi Arabia on March 2, 2020, the government had already taken several steps to prepare for an outbreak. It had already placed a temporary ban on travel to Mecca and Medina and readied an additional 8,000 hospital beds.

In the following days, the government enacted travel bans, closed schools, stores, restaurants, and public spaces, and temporarily suspended government work. Thanks to the already-in-progress Saudi Vision 2030, the country was also able to facilitate faster access to health services and make remote medical services more available. 

As a result, Saudi Arabia was recognized as the best-performing country in handling the COVID-19 pandemic by the Voice of the Healthcare Industry Market Outlook 2021, an annual survey that assesses healthcare organizations worldwide. 

Major Changes to the Healthcare Landscape

Not all countries were as prepared as Saudi Arabia, and even countries that did prepare were overwhelmed by the chaos that COVID-19 brought to the healthcare system. A change was desperately needed.

Healthcare leadership teams had to revamp healthcare policies and hospital procedures almost overnight. One significant change came in the form of telehealth and remote medical services. This change remains today and has been revolutionary for the healthcare industry by preventing sick patients from spreading germs and increasing access to healthcare services across the board.

This shift to the virtual sphere has impacted healthcare leadership as well. Leaders can now connect with team members all over the world. While this means more remote meetings, it also means that staff members can participate no matter where they’re located.

New Lessons for Healthcare Leaders

If another pandemic like COVID-19 hits, preparation is essential. There are many lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic that can better prepare healthcare leadership for another threat to the healthcare system.

Communication is key

Healthcare leadership needs to manage internal and external communication. They must ensure strong communication with all team members as everyone navigates a new normal. Healthcare managers should also formulate a strategy for external communication to let the public know how they plan to handle the crisis. This helps manage expectations and avoids an influx of concerns by external and internal stakeholders. 

For strong and effective communication, remember the rule of 7 Cs. Ensure that messaging is clear, concise, concrete, coherent, correct, complete, and courteous. You should also encourage your employees and clients to contact you with any questions they might have. It is also important to be proactive in your communication efforts: set up bi-weekly check-ins with your team members and key clients. 

Remote work 

Instituting remote work policies and ensuring contingency plans in case a future shutdown happens are also crucial for a smooth transition in the face of another pandemic. Ensure your organization’s policies allow for an easy transition to remote work. This can include installing appropriate software and antivirus on work laptops. For employees who travel often, ensure they can minimize non-essential travel and replace in-person meetings with remote ones. 

Moving Forward in Healthcare Leadership

Healthcare will never go back to the way it was before COVID-19, nor should it. It’s now on healthcare leadership to form a new path for the future. MDBriefCase offers continuing education courses to help medical practitioners, including healthcare leaders, enhance their practice.

Want to share the lessons you or your company have learned after the pandemic? Or have another article to share with your peers? Visit our Healthcare Leadership Academy for more information.

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Audience and Appropriate Topics

The  Healthcare Leadership Academy welcomes submissions on all topics relevant to leaders in healthcare. Our topics include Leading in Healthcare, Leadership Lessons from COVID-19 and others. We prioritize stories that provide leadership advice to executives and managers in healthcare companies, offer actionable strategies for executing successful projects, and provide interesting angles on current healthcare topics. Submissions must be original work of the authors and unpublished.  When submitting, authors represent that they have included no material that is in violation of the rights of any other person or entity.

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Articles must be educational and non-promotional. If they mention the author’s company or any of the company’s products or services by name within the text, such mention should be very limited and used for reference only, not for promotion. (For example, an author might cite a survey conducted by his company but not describe his company’s product as a solution to a business problem.) Articles will be edited for clarity, style and brevity. The final headline is determined by the editor.

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Guest articles for the MDBriefCase Healthcare Leadership Academy may run between 500 and 1000 words. 

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MDBriefCase reserves the right to accept or reject any submission  and the right to condition acceptance upon revision of material to conform to its criteria.   

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