Any lessons to learn? Pathways and impasses towards health system resilience in post-pandemic times

Benjamin Ewert*, Iris Wallenburg, Ulrika Winblad, Roland Bal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
44 Downloads (Pure)


The COVID-19 pandemic has been an ultimate challenge for health systems as a whole rather than just single sectors (e.g. hospital care). Particularly, interface management between health system sectors and cooperation among stakeholders turned out to be crucial for an adequate crisis response. Dealing with such interfaces, it is argued in the literature, demands from health care systems to become resilient. One way to analyse this is to focus on the ways in which bottlenecks in health systems are dealt with during the pandemic. This paper investigates six bottlenecks, including overburdened public health agencies, neglected nursing homes and insufficient testing capacities that have been encountered in the health systems of Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands during the pandemic. Based on empirical findings we identify and critically discuss preliminary lessons in terms of health system resilience, an increasingly popular theoretical concept that frames crises as an opportunity for health system renewal. We argue that in practice health system resilience is hindered by path dependencies of national health systems and, owed to the crisis, interim policies that lack ambition for broader reforms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-81
Number of pages16
JournalHealth economics, policy, and law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press


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