Report

International crisis-led healthcare innovation in response to COVID-19

An overview of some of the crisis-led innovations that have helped countries to cope during the first wave of COVID-19 infections.
Dena Ettehad, Bilal Abou El Ela Bourquin, Matthew Harris

18 November 2020

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This report outlines some of the crisis-led innovations that have helped countries to cope during the first wave of COVID-19 infections and that may shape the ‘new normal’ in the years to come.

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdown measures have permeated close to all aspects of daily life, with immediate and profound effects on population health and its wider determinants. Across the globe there has been an explosion of innovation in response to the crisis, enabled by a sense of common purpose, the unfreezing of rigid organisational structures, processes and regulations, and huge increases in public expenditure.

This report outlines some of the crisis-led innovations that have helped countries to cope during the first wave of COVID-19 infections and that may shape the ‘new normal’ in the years to come.

It collates a number of innovations into six domains (stuff, staff, space, systems, surveillance and society), an adapted version of Farmer’s 4 S’s, which distils the elements that ‘make all the difference in saving lives during an outbreak’.

This paper was written by external authors between June and September 2020. As such, it does not necessarily represent the views of the NHS Confederation or its members.

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About the authors

Dena Ettehad* (BSc BDS MB BChir MSc AKC) is an Academic Foundation Doctor at Imperial College Hospital Trust.

Bilal Abou El Ela Bourquin* (BSc MB BChir FInstLM) is a Foundation Doctor at Cambridge University Hospitals and Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trusts

Matthew Harris (DPhil MBBS MSc PGCE FFPH) is a Senior Clinical Lecturer in Public Health Medicine at Imperial College London. Matthew is Innovation and Evaluation Theme Lead of the NW London NIHR Applied Research Collaborative and a non-executive Director of Primary Care International.

* Co-first authors: these authors contributed equally to this work. MH reviewed the manuscript and subsequent versions, providing significant input.