Seeing Some Opportunities for Good In the Bad (COVID-19)

Michael Brown, MD

Of course, these are hard times, but recently I have been encouraged by stories from the health system of ingenuity, bravery, and solidarity as we respond to COVID-19. This includes accounts of repurposing sections of hospitals, changing how supplies are managed, implementing telemedicine, implementing new sterilization techniques, and modifying staff roles. As the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of all invention”, and the current crisis is demonstrating how a difficult situation can push us to adapt.

Hopefully, it will not be too long before we are beyond the current crisis stage and back to “normal”. When that happens, many of the temporary responses to the pandemic will be reversed, but some innovations may remain. For example, so many of us are now working from home, so perhaps that practice will continue for some people. I also hope and expect that many clinical practices that started providing telemedicine visits will continue to do so in the future.

In addition, I have also been surprised to hear a few different people from different organizations use a version of the same phrase: “changes that would have taken months are now happening in days”. Wow! I wonder why that is? Will we discover unintended consequences that we can only tolerate in a crisis, or will we find out that we are able to adapt faster than we had thought? Time will tell, but I encourage everyone to pay attention to what is going on right now. Not only are we enduring a crisis, but we are also undergoing an experiment that will help us appreciate what we are indeed capable of. Let’s use these challenges as an opportunity to improve ourselves.

Michael Brown, MD, MS, MCHM, CHCIO is a certified executive coach (Center For Executive Coaching) and Chief Medical Officer at Acesis, Inc. He was an instructor at the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health for 8 years after graduating from their Masters in Healthcare Management program in 2007. For the 12 years prior to joining Acesis in 2014, Michael was the Chief Information Officer for Harvard University Health Services.