Document Type : Original Article
Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada
Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Resilience, a system’s ability to maintain a desired level of performance when circumstances disturb its functioning, is an increasingly important concept in healthcare. However, empirical investigations of resilience in healthcare (RiH) remain uncommon, particularly those that examine how government actions contribute to the capacity for resilient performance in the healthcare setting. We sought to investigate how governmental actions during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic related to the concept of resilience, how these actions contributed to the potential for resilient performance in healthcare, and what opportunities exist for governments to foster resilience within healthcare systems.
We conducted case studies of government actions pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic in New South Wales, Australia and Ontario, Canada. Using media releases issued by each government between December 2019 and August 2020, we performed qualitative content analysis to identify themes relevant to the resilience potentials (anticipate, monitor, respond, learn) and RiH.
Direct references to the term ‘resilience’ appeared in the media releases of both governments. However, these references focused on the reactive aspects of resilience. While actions that constitute the resilience potentials were evident, the media releases also revealed opportunities to enhance learning (eg, a need to capitalize on opportunities for double-loop learning and identify strategies appropriate for complex systems) and anticipating (eg, incorporating the concept of hedging into frameworks of RiH).
Though fostering RiH through government action remains a challenge, this study suggests opportunities to realize this goal. Articulating a proactive vision of resilience and recognizing the complex nature of current systems could enhance governments’ ability to coordinate resilient performance in healthcare. Reflection on how anticipation relates to resilience appears necessary at both the practical and conceptual levels to further develop the capacity for RiH.