Using the machine model of an industry, which is over 100 years old, no longer works in the COVID or post COVID world.

COVID has ripped off the bandaide. The gaps in our healthcare system are evident.

Inability to expand COVID testing capacity.

Lack of surge capacity for vulnerable populations.

Public health without the digital infrastructure required to do effective contact tracing.

The failure of supply chains to supply adequate PPE.

The use of the machine model for our healthcare industry no longer works. Time to retire this model and transition to something that is much more likely to work.

As Roger L. Martin points out in his new book, When More Is Not Better, society must be re-interpreted as a complex adaptive system (CAS).

The rules are different with a complex adaptive system.

The system must be allowed to evolve. It is designed to evolve. Solutions evolve. The system is adaptive. It has change built in. Like a biological system adapting through evolutionary forces.

Change in the machine model is blocked at every turn. Regulatory and other barriers that freeze attempts at change. You might not know that a medical innovation used to take up to 20 years to get wide adoption. How is that for resistance to change?

If we as a society can’t reinterpret our healthcare system as a complex adaptive system, then we are primed to fail.

This is a great challenge for our health system designers and for all those involved in delivering care.

Maybe we should build on this theme throughout the healthcare industry before it is too late.

Brenda Zimmerman, the late professor of health management at the Schulich School of Management at York University, would be proud that her pioneering work on complex adaptive systems laid the foundation for healthy system change in Canada. We applaud Brenda today.

Raymond Rupert patient advocate & healthcare consultant.