Tag Archives: Health

Updates from McKinsey

To emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, companies should start reskilling their workforces now
Adapting employees’ skills and roles to the post-pandemic ways of working will be crucial to building operating-model resilience.
By Sapana Agrawal, Aaron De Smet, Sébastien Lacroix, and Angelika Reich – Imagine a crisis that forces your company’s employees to change the way they work almost overnight. Despite initial fears that the pressure would be too great, you discover that this new way of working could be a blueprint for the long term. That’s what leaders of many companies around the globe are finding as they respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

Consider the experience of one pharma company with more than 10,000 sales reps. In February, it switched from an offline model to a 100 percent remote-working one. As the containment phase of the crisis gradually recedes, you might expect remote working to fade as well. However, the company now plans to make a 30 percent-online–70 percent-offline working model permanent, thus leveraging the freshly developed skills of its sales reps.

Even before the current crisis, changing technologies and new ways of working were disrupting jobs and the skills employees need to do them. In 2017, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that as many as 375 million workers—or 14 percent of the global workforce—would have to switch occupations or acquire new skills by 2030 because of automation and artificial intelligence. In a recent McKinsey Global Survey, 87 percent of executives said they were experiencing skill gaps in the workforce or expected them within a few years. But less than half of respondents had a clear sense of how to address the problem.

The coronavirus pandemic has made this question more urgent. Workers across industries must figure out how they can adapt to rapidly changing conditions, and companies have to learn how to match those workers to new roles and activities. This dynamic is about more than remote working—or the role of automation and AI. It’s about how leaders can reskill and upskill the workforce to deliver new business models in the post-pandemic era.

To meet this challenge, companies should craft a talent strategy that develops employees’ critical digital and cognitive capabilities, their social and emotional skills, and their adaptability and resilience. Now is the time for companies to double down on their learning budgets and commit to reskilling. Developing this muscle will also strengthen companies for future disruptions.

In this article, we offer six steps leaders can take to ensure that their employees are equipped with the skills critical to their recovery business models. more>

Updates from Georgia Tech

Interactive Tool Helps People See Why Staying Home Matters During a Pandemic
By Brittany Aiello – Social distancing has become one of the most impactful strategies in the battle to contain the spread of COVID-19, and a new interactive modeling tool can help people understand why it is so important to “flatten the curve.” Known as VERA, the artificial intelligence (AI) application was developed by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology to raise awareness about why it matters that individuals distance themselves during an infectious disease outbreak.

Led by College of Computing faculty members Ashok Goel and Spencer Rugaber, and Design & Intelligence Laboratory graduate researchers William Broniec and Sungeun An, the VERA Epidemiology project uses AI techniques to empower users to build their own visual models that simulate the impact of social distancing. The project evolved from earlier National Science Foundation-supported research on a virtual ecological research assistant that enables researchers to explore “what if” experiments about complex ecological phenomena.

The beauty of VERA is that users do not need a background in complex mathematical equations or computer programming to explore it. A high school student interested in finding out what it looks like to “flatten the curve” can log in to VERA and investigate. A parent handling middle school science lessons from home can log in to VERA and demonstrate the reason that it is important that they do lessons from home during the COVID-19 outbreak. more>


Authoritarianism and state surveillance cannot become a post-pandemic acceptable norm

By Nicholas Waller – In the space of just a few weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has plunged much of the world into a state suspended paralysis. What’s more, this crisis has laid bare just how unprepared we in the developed world are when a major global catastrophe strikes at the very heart of our way of life. But if the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it is that delaying prudent policymaking has deadly and economically ruinous consequences.

When the first signs of an outbreak began in China in late 2019, the earliest warnings were first covered up by a paranoid Communist regime that was intent on keeping the world uninformed about the deadly nature of the disease. Despite multiple alarms in Europe and the United States shortly after the new year, those warnings went unheeded.

While the lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic await an in-depth review once the worst phase of the crisis passes, the world is now left with finding a way to somehow tame the disease while at the same time picking up the pieces of the world’s economies and forging ahead with a more secure post-pandemic existence.

In order to do that, the world’s democracies must acknowledge the disturbing speed by which aggressive and heavy-handed measures were enacted by officials in nations with little-to-no-history of authoritarianism as part of their efforts to combat the spread of the virus. This has led to many of the core tenants of modern liberal democracy becoming the main casualties of the COVID-19 crisis as strict lockdowns, curfews, restrictions on the press, public shaming of those who question the authorities, and restrictions on the right to assemble became the order of the day.

The distinctly Orwellian character of each of the aforementioned acts is impossible to ignore. This means that each of the leading nations of the free world must come to the harsh realization that once certain inalienable rights are stripped away, it is nearly impossible to ever recoup what has been forever lost – the post-9/11 world taught each and every one of us that simple but fundamental lesson.

When the world moves into the next uncharted phases of the post- COVID-19, Europeans must be at the forefront of how to demonstrate the means by which democratic principles can be preserved.

As national economies contract, resources will shrink, and governments will struggle to provide for their own populations. But by pooling together the vast scientific, manufacturing, and innovative resources that the EU possesses – and working in tandem with its close allies in the US, UK, and Canada – Europe can produce and store vital medical and telecommunications resources that would wean itself off a destructive dependence on Chinese supplies, part of which contributed to the sense of malaise and outright hubris that contributed to the severity of the pandemic. more>

Updates from Chicago Booth

No one has all the answers for COVID-19 policy
By Joseph L. Pagliari, Jr. – The COVID-19 epidemic and the policy response to it have already become a wellspring for new economic research, and economics will no doubt emerge from this unprecedented global moment with new evidence for important macroeconomic phenomena. But however the crisis informs economics, it has also reaffirmed one of the science’s core tenets: important decisions involve trade-offs.

The notion of trade-offs, or the idea that there is an opportunity cost to any choice, is central to much of economics. The study of these trade-offs is often associated with traded quantities (the dollar value of things such as domestic production, interest rates, workers’ salaries, etc.), but the COVID-19 pandemic places economists in the uncomfortable position of examining things such as the economic value of human life, the quality of such lives, and the human stresses related to attending to a pandemic. Despite the natural discomfort most people (many economists included) feel about quantifying these things, these economic exercises still play an important role in our understanding of the situation and our crafting policy to address it.

Consider this illustration highlighting the trade-offs inherent in the current pandemic: (see diagram).

As has been much discussed elsewhere, the intention of the stay-at-home (or shelter-in-place) measures in effect throughout the United States is to “flatten the [epidemiological] curve,” or to slow the rate at which the virus spreads, thereby reducing the likelihood of a surge in demand for medical services that leads to sorrowful, triage-like decisions about whom to treat. The “COVID-19-related costs” curve illustrates the all-in costs of mitigating the adverse effects of the coronavirus as a function of the length of the government’s quarantine measures. These all-in costs include not only those who unfortunately perish due to the virus, but also the economic and human costs of providing these medical services, including the extraordinary efforts of the medical community in responding to the pandemic. To state the obvious, these costs are exceedingly difficult to quantify. more>


Leadership Reconceptualized: A Compass for the Leaders of the New Global Era

By Vassili Apostolopoulos – Deconstructing the New Era, is a formidable task. As I am writing these lines, the world has nearly stopped, with more than 180 countries fighting the Coronavirus, imposing different forms of social distancing and lockdown measures. The pandemic of COVID-19 has changed the world in ways and to lengths that we can still not begin to fathom.

Economics, politics, international relations, and governance, on all levels seem to be fundamentally changing. The ways in which firms, governments, international organizations, societies, and even families and individuals operate will change forever. Until a fully-fledged and widely available vaccine alleviates the health risk and contributes to efficiently managing the crisis, social distancing, restrictive measures in work and travel, fear and insecurity, instability and uncertainty will be part of our lives. And, even after the vaccine, the major global effort of preventing the next pandemic, by building a sustainable early warning system with solid safeguards and rapid response mechanisms across the globe and within states and societies will need to become our top priority.

Averting the next Pandemic, is the foremost collective responsibility, for leaders of all fields; from politicians to doctors, from health experts to corporate leaders, from researchers to philanthropists; we all need to contribute to the race for a vaccine, for effective and accessible cures, but also, to develop the action plan which will change the habits and the vicious cycles that generate new viruses. In our interconnected world, where poor hygienic conditions in a wet market in China, can within months bring the world into a standstill, global governance undoubtedly requires an overhaul.

The same applies to dealing with the root causes of infectious diseases such as influenzas, the bird flu, and then the swine flu -the previous pandemic- for which we had been warned a year in advance, in 2008 and had failed to act. More systematic global monitoring, early warning and proactive prevention models, need to be developed on a global level. Crucial institutions like the World Health Organization and the United Nations will need to be revamped, strengthened and upgraded. Shortcomings in global leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic came at a great cost, and a major global crisis was treated very poorly and highly unsystematically in some of its most decisive phases.

Leadership cannot be a la carte, and global cooperation in the face of existential global crises cannot be elective. more>

Updates from Chicago Booth

Some basic economics of COVID-19 policy
A look at the trade-offs we face in regulating behavior during the pandemic
By Casey B. Mulligan, Kevin M. Murphy, and Robert H. Topel – The costs of the COVID-19 crisis come in two primary forms. The first is the direct impact in terms of health and lives lost. The second is the indirect impact that comes from efforts by individuals, private institutions, and governments to mitigate those health impacts, such as social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and mandatory business closures. It is imperative that we keep in mind that both are costs, and that less of one typically means more of the other. Like it or not, the first lesson of economics is that there are trade-offs, and choices are inevitable.

Regardless of how we choose to bear them, the costs of the pandemic will be large. Some very rough estimates provide perspective. Based on our earlier work on the value of mortality reductions and improved health, we estimate that an unrestricted pandemic infecting 60 percent of the US population and with an infection fatality rate (IFR) below 1 percent would result in roughly 1.4 million deaths, heavily concentrated among the elderly, with a total value of lost lives of about $6 trillion. For comparison, that is equivalent to about 30 percent of annual US GDP, suggesting that even small progress against the spread of the disease can be quite valuable.

Against this, we estimate that efforts to slow the pandemic via a nationwide shutdown of “non-essential” economic activities would carry a cost approaching $7 trillion per year (roughly $20 billion per day), even ignoring other long-run costs from reduced values of human and physical capital and any intrinsic value of reduced civil liberties.

Of course, an unrestricted pandemic is implausible even in the absence of government interventions, as individuals have powerful incentives to engage in self-protection once the risks are even partially known. Even so, these are big numbers. more>


Updates from McKinsey

Purpose: Shifting from why to how
What is your company’s core reason for being, and where can you have a unique, positive impact on society? Now more than ever, you need good answers to these questions.
By Arne Gast, Pablo Illanes, Nina Probst, Bill Schaninger and Bruce Simpson – Only 7 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs believe their companies should “mainly focus on making profits and not be distracted by social goals.” And with good reason. While shareholder capitalism has catalyzed enormous progress, it also has struggled to address deeply vexing issues such as climate change and income inequality—or, looking forward, the employment implications of artificial intelligence.

But where do we go from here? How do we deliver a sense of purpose across a wide range of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) priorities? Doing so means moving from business as usual to a less traveled path that may feel like “painting outside the lines.” Are we going too far beyond our core mandate? Does it mean we’ll lose focus on bottom-line results? Will transparency expose painful tensions better left unexamined? Will our boards, management teams, employees, and stakeholders want to follow us, or will they think we have “lost the plot”? There are no easy answers to these questions; corporate engagement is messy, and pitfalls, including criticism from skeptical stakeholders, abound.

Yet when companies fully leverage their scale to benefit society, the impact can be extraordinary. The power of purpose is evident as the world fights the urgent threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a number of companies doubling down on their purpose, at the very time stakeholders need it the most (for more, see “Demonstrating corporate purpose in the time of coronavirus”). Business also has an opportunity, and an obligation, to engage on the urgent needs of our planet, where waiting for governments and nongovernmental organizations to act on their own through traditional means such as regulation and community engagement carries risk.

Fortunately, a “how to” playbook is starting to emerge as a growing number of companies lead. In this article, we try to distill some inspiring steps taken by forward-looking companies. more>


The international order after COVID-19

By Robert Malley – Running parallel to the global battle against the coronavirus pandemic is a tug of war between two competing narratives about how the world ought to be governed. Although addressing the pandemic is more urgent, which narrative prevails will have equally far-reaching consequences.

The first narrative is straightforward: a global health crisis has further demonstrated the need for multilateralism and exposed the fallacy of go-it-alone nationalism or isolationism. The second narrative offers the counterview: globalization and open borders create vulnerabilities to viruses and other threats, and the current struggle for control of supply lines and life-saving equipment requires that each country first take care of its own. Those in the first camp regard the pandemic as proof that countries must come together to defeat common threats; those in the second see it as proof that countries are safer standing apart.

At first blush, COVID-19 seems likely to corroborate the argument for a more coordinated international approach. Given that the coronavirus does not stop at national borders, it stands to reason that the response should not be constrained by them either.

This makes perfect sense from a public health perspective. If COVID-19 persists anywhere, it will remain an incipient threat everywhere, regardless of efforts to wall it off. The more widely that testing kits and, when discovered, treatments and vaccines, are distributed, the faster the pandemic will be vanquished. The more that scientific knowledge is shared, the faster those drugs will be developed. And, in the meantime, the more that governments coordinate on matters such as travel restrictions and social distancing, the smoother the exit from this crisis. more>

It’s a virus, and this isn’t a war

The coronavirus crisis is a social challenge, Karin Pettersson writes, which the formerly secure are now being reminded is hitting the poor hardest.
By Karin Pettersson – In an essay in Wired magazine, the British author Laurie Penny describes how most of our disaster scenarios describe situations where those who survive are saved by raw strength and weapons. The hero is a man, alone against the danger: terrorists, zombies, aliens.

When the crisis came—our actual crisis—it turned out to look nothing like we had imagined. The hero who risks his life to save us is not a survivalist ‘prepper’ wrapped in a cartridge belt with a gun over his shoulder.

The heroine is an underpaid temp working in a home for the elderly, forced to expose herself to the virus without sanitizer or proper protection. The ‘frontline combatants’ in this apocalypse are not soldiers, but nurses and doctors, cleaners and cashiers. Surgical masks and ventilators, not weapons, are unloaded from Finnish emergency warehouses.

What stands between us and collapse is not raw strength but protective equipment, medication and hospital beds. It is the very welfare capacity which has been underfunded and even privatized in recent decades. It’s the prosaic infrastructure of civilization: eldercare, health care, social security.

This is also where our shortcomings become visible. The stories are by now commonplace—how people working in nursing homes kept on going to work when the virus exploded, even though they had a sore throat. They simply could not afford to stay at home. In the end they, and many others, lacked two layers of protection—against poverty as well as the virus.

Some politicians have called the challenge of dealing with the virus a ‘war’ nonetheless. But a real war, heaven forfend, calls for action. What is needed now, from most of us, is the opposite: patience, caring for others, quiet solidarity, small acts of kindness.

Of course, if it really were a war, as the author Arundhati Roy rhetorically asks, who would be better prepared than the United States? ‘If it were not masks and gloves that its frontline soldiers needed, but guns, smart bombs, bunker busters, submarines, fighter jets and nuclear bombs, would there be a shortage?’ Certainly not. more>

Updates from McKinsey

The future is now: Closing the skills gap in Europe’s public sector
As the need for digital government capabilities increases during the COVID-19 pandemic, the European public sector can close the skills gap by focusing on three areas.
By David Chinn, Solveigh Hieronimus, Julian Kirchherr, and Julia Klier – The advance of digital technologies and especially artificial intelligence (AI) presents the European Union and the United Kingdom (the EU-28) with enormous opportunities for growth. A study by the McKinsey Global Institute shows that if digitally lagging sectors—such as manufacturing, mining, healthcare, and education—double their use of digital assets and increase the digitization of labor, the EU-28 could add €2.5 trillion to its GDP by 2025, boosting GDP growth by 1 percent per year until then. In its 2020 European Digital Strategy, the European Commission is attempting to realize this potential through measures such as increasing investments in AI development to more than €20 billion per year through 2030, compared with €3.2 billion in 2016.

The advance of digital technologies has raised European businesses’ and citizens’ expectations regarding improvements in smart regulation and citizen experience—for instance, through the digital delivery of public services—as well increased funding for technological development. Today, the COVID-19 outbreak is not only intensifying the need for the digitization of a wide range of administrative services (such as unemployment benefits), but it is also making digital skills a prerequisite for employees to successfully work from home. While the pandemic poses immense challenges, the current crisis is also an impetus for governments across the EU-28 to accelerate and deliver on their digital ambitions.

Indeed, governments across the EU-28 have already launched a range of initiatives toward end-to-end e-government. However, our analysis suggests a shortage of digital and technological skills to successfully and rapidly implement these initiatives—a total of 8.6 million people across the EU-28 public sector without the necessary skills by 2023 (exhibit). As a result, opportunity exists to harness the full benefits of technology, such as improving efficiency and transparency of government operations, advancing service quality for citizens, and improving the EU-28’s overall competitiveness. The public sector also faces the dual challenge of shaping how the digital revolution affects business and society while empowering its own employees, which constitute roughly 17 percent of all employees across the EU-28, to learn and apply new technical and digital skills.

To close the skills gap and best equip the workforce to operate in an increasingly digitized and automated world, governments will need to focus on recruiting, upskilling, and reskilling efforts. And in the context of COVID-19, moving quickly in these areas is more essential than ever. more>