Health Care Leadership During a Pandemic

Winning the War Against an Invisible Enemy that Fights on Four Fronts


As of today, even with almost 2 million infections in the USA and over 100,000 deaths, we are still in the beginning rounds of this pandemic.  Here’s what we have learned so far…

Round One, a novel virus, unabated and unchecked, came out punching and quickly did horrific damage to a tragically misinformed world.  1-0 virus.

Round Two, we counterpunched with unprecedented interventions to stop the economy worldwide, quarantine the populations, and mobilize our delivery systems and supply chains.  We flattened the curve and tied the match 1-1. However, a continued shut down is NOT economically viable long term.

Round Three, we are now reopening the economy, hopefully in a smart and data-driven manner.  Will there be a second wave as the virus fights back, and if so, how will we combat it?

This will lead to Round Four.  How many more rounds will there be until we win this war as we employ mitigation efforts to buy the time necessary to ultimately deliver our combination of knock-out punches– anti-viral medications and vaccines– to achieve herd immunity?  I am confident in the American spirit, free market, and ingenuity.  We will ultimately win, and go on to fight the next one.   Health care leaders will be at the forefront—but it will require new and innovative skills.


The Issues:

The COVID pandemic has hit this world with a vengeance.  But winning the war is far more complicated for the health care executive than just fighting the invisible virus.  Whether we like it or not, we have found ourselves in the midst of a four-front war.  (Generals throughout history have always cautioned against multi-front battlefields).

The Four Dimensions:  Medical, Economic, Social, and Political

A solution that is best for one may be at odds with another.  For example, a good health care solution (continued quarantining) could lead to an economic and social disaster.  Even though continued quarantining would reduce viral deaths, it would likely also increase other deaths (depression, chronic disease, cancer).  Plus, as we learned more about this virus, the expert recommendations have changed, putting us truly in a “fog of war” against multiple conflicting interests. Now, superimpose two conflicting political parties in an election year, potentially spinning all endeavors toward partisan personal benefit.  Finally, add the issues of social isolation, social mandates and the resulting consequences on individual rights, freedoms and responsibilities.  Even the subject matter experts (our field generals) have conflicting opinions, which has contributed to politicizing and even weaponizing some the issues.  It’s a complicated four-front battleground.   The healthcare leader must negotiate the intricacies of all four in order to successfully beat this enemy.

Now, a new national crisis has been superimposed upon this pandemic.  With multiple demonstrations, social distancing is being ignored.  What effect will this have on the progression of the existing pandemic?

Dr. Berkowitz is a nationally recognized health care executive, speaker and author, and will provide an international overview of this pandemic, focusing on the interactions of these four battle fronts, what we have learned, and how to better equip our leaders to confront our present and future challenges now and in the post- COVID times.


Presentation Objectives:

  1. Discuss the new rules of engagement for winning in a multi-front environment (Medical/Economic/Social/Political), citing specific examples of conflicts, and offer recommendations for better recognition and resolution currently and in future crises.
  2. Discuss how to lead your organization through the “fog of war”–to be data-driven, even when the data is changing, conflicting or politically/socially charged or spun.
  3. Give examples of how to develop a leadership strategy that allows the subject matter experts to appropriately “weigh-in”, but leaving the ultimate decision-making to the appropriate executives.
  4. Give examples of national best practices of implementing an overall pandemic strategy that delivers on the logistics, and can balance a consistent systemwide approach with local empowerment addressing specific community needs and resource allocations- throughput, supply chain, staffing, IS challenges.
  5. Review the organizational and leadership challenges of the post-Corona New Normal- from telemedicine to a more remotely working society–what can future leaders expect?
  6. Discuss leadership implications of multiple crises and its effect on heatlh care delivery.
  7.  Discuss the specific challenges for physicians and medical groups during the pandemic period.