The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered abrupt challenges for health care providers, requiring them to simultaneously plan for and manage a rise of COVID-19 cases while maintaining essential health services.
Countries took different approaches for planning health services to meet the need for surge capacity, re-designed patient flows to ensure separation between COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients, and maintained routine services in both hospital and ambulatory settings. Despite very real differences in the organization of health and care services, there were many similarities in country responses. These include transitioning the management of COVID-19 mild cases from hospitals to outpatient settings, increasing the use of remote consultations, and cancelling or postponing non-urgent services during the height of the first wave.
In the immediate future, countries will have to continue balancing care for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients to minimize adverse health outcomes, ideally with supporting guidelines and COVID-19-specific care zones. Looking forward, policymakers will need to consider whether the strategies adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic will become permanent features of care provision.
Read the full article here on Providing health services effectively during the first wave of COVID-19: a cross-country comparison on planning services, managing cases, and maintaining essential services.
This article is part of a forthcoming Heath Policy ‘COVID-19 Health Systems Response Monitor (HSRM)’ Special Issue which shares key learnings and lessons for policymakers based on the information gathered since March 2020.