5 tips for harnessing the learning from COVID-19

Picture of Kerrie Preston

Published on 6 August 2020 at 12:56

by Kerrie Preston

Learning from Covid19

Over the last few months healthcare professionals across the globe have faced unprecedented challenges and pressures from the knock-on effect of COVID-19. The initial urgency of the situation required immediate action, with a plethora of changes happening at all levels. Many people have been forced by this crisis to adapt and learn quickly, imposing new demands and constraints on what was already a difficult environment. Whilst immediate interventions have been necessary it is still hard to say what the long-term knock-on effect will be.


“This is the defining global health crisis of our time. The days, weeks and months ahead will be a test of our resolve, a test of our trust in science and a test of solidarity.” [1]


Dr. Tedros Adhanom - Director General - World Health Organization*


Whilst the pandemic is far from over, there has definitely been a change of pace. Many organisations have found time to re-group, start to assess the impact of COVID-19 and begin to focus on improvement projects that have presented themselves as vital following this difficult period. New approaches and innovative ideas have begun to emerge from those who bring their improvement mindset to this challenge. It is these people and organisations that are more likely to find creative solutions, test and iterate, and find ways to thrive, strengthen the healthcare systems, promoting better health and keeping their communities safe.


“The next phase of our work requires us to bring our core principles of people participation and quality improvement to help us learn from the change that has taken place, understand how to hold onto the aspects that seem to represent improvement, and redesign what our systems need to look like in the future. Has there ever been a better opportunity for us to truly rethink how we focus and design ourselves around what matters most to those we serve?” [2]

 Dr Amar Shah, East London NHS Foundation Trust


As organisations are starting to gather learning from the past few months, we have seen a significant increase in COVID-19 projects being run on Life QI. Teams around the world are working on new, innovative ways of working and sharing their findings with the wider improvement community in Life QI.


Let’s take a look at how Life QI can help you and your organisation to capture all of the fantastic learnings that have played a virtual part of the pandemic so far and that will help to shape a new vision for future improvement:


Informing learning

There has never been a more crucial time to capture changes and improvements. All the teams we have spoken with are working hard to capture the scale and nature of changes that have taken place during the last five months so the learning can be harnessed to inform further work.


The mechanism for many teams is capturing recent changes and improvements as a project in Life QI. These projects offer an accessible record of what changes have been made and what impact they have had so far. Given the speed with which these changes were made there may be less detail and data than in normal projects, but capturing what data, PDSAs and thinking you do have will preserve it for others to learn from.


Creating a project is especially useful if the change process is still ongoing (more changes to be made) and/or if you want to continue data collection to better measure the impact of the changes.


Life QI tip: Tag your project using the ‘COVID-19’ tag, this will help colleagues and the wider improvement community find covid related projects that they can learn from.


Foster a learning culture

Our mission at Life QI is to accelerate the rate of healthcare improvement. As such we encourage you to share information across your organisation, and where appropriate with the wider improvement community. The visibility of information that comes from this transparency will help others achieve improvements faster, thanks to the learning that can be taken from your work. So share what you can and encourage others to do so as well.


Build on the changes

Maximise the impact of the recent changes by running spread and scale projects off the back of the recent changes. Take the changes recently implemented and look to adapt and replicate them in similar settings for similar gains. Given the recent openness to change, now is perhaps an excellent time to multiply the impact of recent changes by spreading them across your organisation.


Life QI tip: Don’t forget to continue to tag your projects with COVID-19 so you can easily locate all of your covid projects.


Harness staff engagement

The pandemic has seen a surge in staff willingness to rapidly change long standing practices. It is for improvement teams to harness this increase in QI engagement. Now is the time to train more staff in QI and engage more staff in projects. If you are stretched for time, then contact your Life QI Success Manager who can organise staff training to take the pressure off of your core QI team.


Analyse the response efforts

Life QI dashboards are a simple but effective way of analysing your organisation’s improvement efforts. A specific COVID-19 dashboard would be of great benefit when running a number of COVID-19 projects across different departments. This centralised hub of knowledge offers an overview of the increased activity and impact around COVID-19 easily highlighting vital improvements that could be shared across the whole organisation. Don’t lose innovative ideas and solutions because people do not have a place to share their findings!


Many lives are being impacted and disrupted by COVID-19; we would like to thank all our health care professionals who working tirelessly on the frontline to combat this pandemic.




[1] 26th March 2020 - Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Director General, WHO (World Health Organization) on Covid-19 - Video here.
[2] 27th March 2020 - Dr. Amar Shah, Cheif Quality Officer, ELFT (East London Foundation Trust) QI Newsletter - Stories of using QI through COVID-19.

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