Over-engineering is generally not a good strategy. But as recent events have taught us, it is the best strategy when it comes to a medical crisis.
Most companies have set expectations when it comes to the solutions they seek. They prefer not to pay for the over-engineering of solutions with unnecessary features. Medical supplies, equipment, and staffing are areas where over-engineering would be a welcome surprise during a pandemic, especially during a second (or third) wave.
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At the start of the pandemic, personal protective equipment was in short supply. Most medical clinics, care homes, hospitals, and businesses would have preferred to have dealt with an over-engineering or over-stock issue. Going into the second wave of COVID-19 would be no different. Having an overstock of antibacterial supplies, gloves, gowns, shoe protectors, masks, face shields, and other personal protective equipment would be welcome. With lives at risk, having more than less is a good thing and would likely be the best strategy in the future, except when dealing with short expiration or effective dates on supplies.
Technology is a great thing when it is available and built with an intended purpose in mind. In this pandemic, there were critical supply shortages of items such as ventilators, sterilization equipment, and other health technologies such as 3D printers for making equipment and vital to sustaining life. Outdated or under-engineered equipment is a medical professional’s nightmare. While over-engineering these types of technologies may be a nice-to-have, it’s better to have it than wish you did. This is especially true of technology to deal with microscopic particles or microorganisms. It’s also true of technologies that help health care professionals gather, analyze, and report findings from patient tests on a large scale.
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Most people recognized direct frontline workers in the fight against the pandemic, but few think about the role of other professionals such as project managers. These are some of the most necessary but least-acknowledged in the fight against a medical crisis like COVID-19. Project managers help identify service and supply-chain holes, address leadership challenges, and pinpoint frontline staff gaps. They are also instrumental in developing preparedness plans to get ahead of the next crisis. Along with medical professionals at all levels, these leaders can help reduce risk and identify the best strategies to deal with the next crisis and ways to deal with the current one.
While over-engineering, in general, is often not the best strategy and wastes time, resources, funds, and doesn’t meet with the needs of most initiatives, it just may have been the best strategy for a pandemic response plan, in hindsight. After COVID-19 it’s unlikely that many health care professionals or patients wouldn’t complain about the strategy to stockpile essential medical supplies or equipment or increase funding to training programs and budgets for health care and other essential workers.