Using Digital Innovation to Navigate the Phases of COVID-19

May 2020 • Digital Innovation Strategy Team

A framework or “blueprint” for conceptualizing the evolution as well as associated recommendations for meeting the challenges and opportunities of the ongoing crisis. The framework includes characteristics of each phase, industry and economic triggers that indicate movement to the next phase, and a list of digitally focused actions that a health plan can take to mitigate challenges or opportunistically take advantage as they move through each phase.

  • Phase 1: Crisis response. The first and current (nearing the end) phase of the crisis has been defined by healthcare organizations focusing all efforts on mobilizing resources, capacity, and staff to meet the growing demands (and problems) presented by the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Phase 2a: Business recovery. The second phase represents the business recovery period for health systems between the “active” pandemic phase detailed above and a loosening of social distancing. Health systems will be focused on convincing their patients and providers it is safe to return and to restart non-COVID procedures. The recovery period will be defined by health systems and other stakeholders focusing on recovering financially and restoring normal processes and patient care delivery.
  • Phase 2b: Management of Surges. This phase will run parallel to business recovery. In this phase, healthcare stakeholders will attempt to mobilize exhausted resources to prepare for a resurgence of COVID-19 cases as the economy reopens and establish best practices for surveillance, testing, and monitoring patients.
  • Phase 3: The Next Normal. The final phase represents the next normal or future state of healthcare as changed by COVID-19. This period will be defined by health systems and other stakeholders shifting focus back to normal operations with adjustments for the long-term implications on care delivery and consumer preferences caused by the previous phases.


The COVID-19 Digital Insight Reports are published by the Digital Innovation Group—a sophisticated team of team of digital strategists, product innovators and digital health investors embedded at Providence. Providence is one of the nation’s largest health systems and was also the first responder in the United States to COVID-19. These reports couple direct experience with primary research conducted through interviews with health system, technology and innovation leaders—offering a framework for navigating the phases of COVID-19, new insight into the role digital innovation will play, and new opportunities now available to health systems as they move forward toward a post-COVID next normal.


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