Despite the many changes in the orientation of the world economy and the spotlight positioning, the healthcare sector remains one of the most important and critical sectors for its contribution in every aspect of human life. Improvements in the healthcare sector are seen and evident on a daily basis to cope with the technological and digital advancements in the world, and the recent COVID-19 pandemic has put these improvements into a faster pace. Several challenges in the health sector have risen to surface since the beginning of the pandemic; some of these challenges have been properly addressed and tackled, while others have shown the flaws in the healthcare sector in several countries around the world. These challenges have come with risks that can be projected on the sector as a whole, and thus this has given researchers a golden chance to dig further deep into more improvements in the sector, to have these risks identified, assessed, and eliminated or monitored in the future.

Digital transformation has recently become one of the most robust tools to improve the processes and operations of organizations as whole and paramount ones in particular. Digital transformation brings however its own risks and thus a lot of research has been previously addressed the risks of digital transformation, whereas no research has yet been done on digital transformation by itself being used as a risk management and mitigation tool despite its effective use as an improvement tool and for other organizational goals. Our research comes to address the main risks in the healthcare sector and to match these risks with monitoring actions that use digital transformation as a tool. One of the main challenges the healthcare sector has faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, was the ability to maintain ordinary operations while handling COVID-19 cases and controlling the spread of the virus in the healthcare facility. This situation has called for segregation of COVID-19 patients from other patients whether it was in the same facility or by adapting them into different facilities. The segregation of patients has been done using two digital solutions; embedment of automatic thermometers, and the development of an efficient scheduling strategy for COVID-19 symptomatic patients. Furthermore, other challenges have risen due to the pandemic and caused major risks that called for monitoring actions and solutions, whether digital or non-digital ones. To investigate these challenges, a literature review was conducted in this research to highlight the 11 most common challenges that can be included in a survey to be distributed to different healthcare organizations for the purpose of prioritization and ranking of these challenges and ultimately conclude the associated risks based on the results of the survey.

In this research, a survey was conducted with over 100 hospitals inside and outside the UAE to identify the main challenges in the healthcare sector faced during the pandemic. The

survey addressed the challenges that were found in the literature review to be the most impactful on the healthcare sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. These challenges acted as an inspiring source for the associated risks to be identified accordingly based on their impact result from the survey. Furthermore, an assessment of these risks was conducted to evaluate the likelihood of each risk and ultimately the risk rank and priority. The final step in the risk management strategy entailed the recommendation of monitoring actions based on digital transformation tools and techniques. Basing the monitoring actions on digital transformation will pose the trademark of this research and will highlight its originality. Moreover, the survey has also addressed three factors by questions that were answered by the respondents. These factors included the country, the size of the healthcare organization, and its technological readiness. The correlation of these factors with the collected responses of healthcare organizations is investigated using statistical tools to study the effect of these factors on the impact level of COVID-19 on the healthcare organization. This risk management framework will act as a guideline for any healthcare organization Finally, a risk management framework is drawn from these findings involving a risk response strategy and a risk control plan as part of risk registers. The main and ultimate goal of this research is to outline a recommended management approach to the healthcare sector risks caused by an event of a pandemic in general and COVID-19 in specific. This risk management framework designed in this report will act as a guideline for any healthcare organization of any size, with any level of technological readiness, and at any level outbreak severity in the country.

Publication Date


Document Type

Master's Project

Student Type


Degree Name

Engineering Management (ME)

Department, Program, or Center

Industrial and Systems Engineering (KGCOE)


Ghalib Kahwaji

Advisor/Committee Member

Slim Saidi


RIT Dubai