How Will #COVID19 Transform Digital Transformation?

Sean Erreger LCSW
3 min readMar 12, 2020

The Coronavirus is having a tremendous impact on the world. World markets and travel were the first industries to feel the it. Two industries that I follow closely follow are being forced to change the way they do business… and fast. Both healthcare and education are being compelled to change how they use technology to scale and conduct their day to day functions.

My gut reaction was to see how quickly technology in healthcare may be adopted….

Providers building telehealth and other remote monitoring to tackle this disease is becoming a common theme. Also being preparing the workforce to reduce face to face contact maybe a possibility. Healthcare systems will be quick to see how they can adapt to provide treatment, screening, and protect their workforce and those they serve.

It is also changing education as conferences are forced to cancel and look at virtual options. College’s and Universities are developing strategies about how to scale their classes online and in some cases within weeks or days. However this is coming with challenges. Switching to an online pedagogy with a week’s notice while ensuring equal access is a question that is top of mind…

This COVID19 outbreak is quickly changing our relationship to technology. One of the things I can’t get out of my head is what took us so long to ask these questions. With regard to telehealth, I think about how challenging it has been to adapt this technology of mental health and substance use disorders. With regard to conferences, virtual options would greatly increase knowledge translation to those who normally can’t afford to go to a conference…

Of course technology has transformed society. Of course it is making improvements. This COVID19 outbreak has me thinking about how and for whom. More importantly when technology scales “to make lives better”, who decides who gets access to it? When digital transformation happens this quickly, who benefits? And why did it take a pandemic to get us here?

My suspicion is that as this continues to spread, digital transformation will become a social justice issue. Issues of internet access, broadband, cell service, and access to computers will play an ever increasing role.

One thing I can’t ignore is where social work’s place should be in digital transformation. Whenever challenges like this come up, I think of the National Association Of Social Worker Core Values. How service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence; can guide the complexity of current events. Always have to take a moment to give a plug for social work practice to be a part of solving complex problems.

As COVID19 continues to spread we are just in the early stages and these ethical challenges won’t be going away. Technology will continue to enter our lives, reduce human contact, and accelerate digital transformation. Who will be left behind is important? Having voices at the table to ensure access and equity will be imperative. As technology continues to transform our lives, my hope is that these questions will continue to be elevated.

Originally published at https://stuckonsocialwork.com on March 12, 2020.

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Sean Erreger LCSW

blogger, consultant #socialwork, #mentalhealth, suicide prevention. How tech & Social Media is changing change…blog: www.StuckOnSocialWork.Com