Pen and Paper as a Tool to Fight the Next Pandemic

To say our world has taken an unexpected turn is an understatement. One minute it is business as usual and the next minute we are talking about social distancing, lockdowns, scarcity of PPE and even the hoarding of toilet paper! Unprecedented to say the least. Providers are being asked to operate in circumstances they never expected, and we are all learning we are far more flexible and adaptable than we ever thought possible. Times are tough for providers, yet each and every day providers continue to care for people who can’t care for themselves.

In Iowa the peak of new COVID-19 cases is not expected for another 2-3 weeks. Providers, and their employees, are experiencing more stress on a daily basis. It is likely that few providers are thinking “what can we learn from this experience”, but I highly recommend leaders take detailed notes each day recording what the organization is doing, how it has adapted, what has worked, and what hasn’t. Once the pandemic passes, and it will, memories will fade; the things that were tried but didn’t work will not be remembered and much of day-to-day operations will return to pre-pandemic levels.

Keeping a daily diary, of sorts, of how the organization is responding will provide a treasure trove of information that can be used to improve operations once the pandemic is over. Many providers are discovering the systems and policies they had in place may not be as strong or effective as expected. Employees, and organizations for that matter, often do not think clearly in times of extreme stress; the COVID-19 situation gives us a tremendous opportunity to see how effective our training, policies, procedures and systems really are by tracking how employees respond to this stressful situation.

Even in the heat of battle, military leaders spend a great deal to time recording what is happening in order to study each battle after the fact in an effort to be better prepared for the next battle. Taking a few moments each day to jot down a few notes of what the organization faced that day, and how it responded, is the first step to coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic as a better organization.

Stay well my friends.