Learn from crisis to build a better system

 The Singapore General Hospital. ST PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN
The Singapore General Hospital. ST PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN

The delay in the communication process over the hepatitis C cases at the Singapore General Hospital may affect the public's trust ("SGH's delay raises questions on info flow"; last Friday).

The Ministry of Health should look at how to proactively contain the negative publicity the incident has brought upon the healthcare system and move into building a more resilient system ("Learn from hepatitis C experience: PM; Sunday).

The negative publicity became more pronounced especially because of the speed at which perceived news travels on social media. The potential stirring of emotions can make it harder for proper crisis management.

In the process of handling the crisis, key leaders and policymakers should resolve obvious, and less obvious, weaknesses in the healthcare system. Critical functions and processes that are necessary to keep the current operation running smoothly should not be compromised.

The leaders should adopt a learning orientation and capitalise on the experience to develop better systems.

Research shows that a crisis can demonstrate the leadership, values and execution abilities of an organisation.

A crisis can be a stepping stone to building a more resilient, effective and efficient organisation.

I am confident that our key leaders, policymakers and healthcare staff will rise to the occasion, just as they did during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) crisis.

They will show the public that we have one of the best healthcare systems in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2015, with the headline 'Learn from crisis to build a better system'. Print Edition | Subscribe