Planning a pandemic response

Researchers have identified four key competencies that may assist health services when employing targeted pandemic approaches, such as surge capacity

As we have seen over the last year, successfully managing a pandemic is no small feat.

The evolving nature of viral transmission, including new strains, and increased workforce demands, have presented unprecedented challenges for health systems worldwide.

Some systems have adapted, while others have buckled under the pressure.

Associate Professor Hanan Khalil and her team have identified four key competencies that may assist health services when employing targeted pandemic approaches, such as surge capacity.

“Evidence-based strategies should consider the feasibility, appropriateness, meaningfulness and effectiveness of healthcare practices at both the system and organisational level,” explains Associate Professor Khalil.

They must be timely, avoid duplication and maximise available resources. And, they must address diversity issues and accommodate the cultural, religious and spiritual needs of healthcare professionals and patients.

While developing surge capacity is critical in times of crisis, Associate Professor Khalil argues that its success rests on the competence of the healthcare workforce.

“Human resources are the most important asset in crisis management,” she says, “and so educating staff is essential to provide effective and meaningful support.”

“Prospectively educating healthcare professionals and managers on leadership and crisis management will ensure that we improve the quality of management decisions and, with it, service delivery, effectiveness and efficiency.”

The team will use their findings to develop a framework for health service managers that assesses staff competency to accommodate surge conditions, while also supporting them to implement responsive, evidence-based initiatives.

“To be truly effective in crisis management,” says Associate Professor Khalil, “we must implement lessons learned.”

“This takes time and can only be achieved by upskilling our health workforce so that they are better equipped to make responsive, evidence-based decisions during public health emergencies.”

Read the paper.