The COVID-19 pandemic provided the unexpected conditions for an unprecedented natural experiment in the healthcare sector. A substantial increase in healthcare demand was combined with mandatory distancing measures. This prevented patients from accessing, and clinicians from providing, healthcare by traditional routes. The result was a rapid development and acceleration of the implementation of technology in the healthcare market. Large-scale adoption of technological innovations produced efficient and cost-effective solutions which helped to mitigate the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, but also may help to address growing unmet needs in the NHS.
Although the development and application of technology in the medical and social care field have been encouraged before the Covid-19 pandemic, routes to mass adoption and integration were slow and turbulent. Whereas the willingness to explore technological innovations in the healthcare sector was widely shared amongst clinicians, scientists and healthcare providers, the integration and adoption were impeded by systemic barriers, including regulatory complexities, devolution, and bureaucracy. This posed a significant constraint to utilising healthcare resources more efficiently.
So how did the COVID-19 pandemic disrupt the status quo and helped overcome institutional inertia, triggering the rapid adoption of digital solutions in the healthcare system?