Does healthcare need digitalization of mobilisation management like defence?

Does healthcare need digitalization of mobilisation management like defence?

The ongoing pandemic has exposed an issue related to national security and protection: the capability to mobilise resources and people into structures and organisations to counter threats. The covid-19 pandemic accentuates readiness as essential to states. Healthcare mobilisation is a task with scope and complexity large as military defence mobilisation.

For defence the ability to provide military forces to counter an enemy is the core. However, in peacetime it is both costly and inconvenient to seize large amounts of resources such as equipment and soldiers. The solution has been the mobilisation forces, where stock is put up or purchases are prepared. Soldiers are sent home and are included as forces to call in case of emergency.

Mobilisation management in defence is a complex discipline involving massive planning to be able to work. Decades and even centuries of experience are the basis for the structures for the defences found in Europe and the USA today. The experience has been built into scenarios for how a war will unfold. The scenarios may be based on past experiences of a war and e.g. added to the new assumptions that arise, e.g. in relation to new types of weapons, changes in conventions or changing threat images.

Scenario building and planning of activities and countermeasures have always been the most important element of readiness. Today it is difficult to imagine that it can be done without IT solutions that support the organization in the various areas concerned. This applies for planning, purchasing, inventory management, warehousing, transportation, infrastructure management, organisational structures, personnel management, etc.

Simulation and training of the scenarios is an essential element to ensure that both personnel and equipment planned for the scenario can be available in necessary quantities and functions. In doing so, the simulation is also a test of the calculations and assumptions that were set up.

The scenarios are critical in managing readiness and mobilisation. On one hand many scenarios are the guarantee of covering all possible situations that may arise. On the other hand, the scenarios must be sufficient detailed to enable designing structures and resources according to them. At the same time, they must have a certain degree of generality over them, so as not to lock the mobilisation into details that are immaterial. The scenarios are the prerequisite for performing useful calculations.

Mid 90’s Denmark was the first country to achieve implementing and utilizing an integrated standard IT-system (ERP) to support mobilisation planning by building an military emergency management for equipment and soldiers. Digitalization of readiness management became a model for other nations. Today defence management systems in many EU and NATO countries are ERP systems that even covers readiness and mobilisation since this is the core of the business.

Efficient readiness management in healthcare calls for management systems to support in situations of escalation like the pandemic or any other serious threat arising. ERP systems could be important basis when digitalizing the mobilisation management because ERP systems build on standard processes and standardised solutions.

Digitalization of readiness and mobilisation planning could be the right answer in assuring efficient readiness management and control of resources and costs. The essentials of mobilisation and readiness management is not a fixed plan but to establish capabilities of coping with dynamic environments and situations. The next pandemic could have completely different characteristics. The ability to adapt to changing threats is the most important requirement.