Factors influencing allied health innovation in the COVID 19 pandemic response: “Management said, ‘Go make it happen.’”

Dr Belinda Gavaghan1, Gretchen Young1


The response to the COVID-19 pandemic led to the initiation of innovative service responses from all health professionals, including allied heath professionals. The need to rapidly adjust to different settings, demands and constraints, required Queensland public health services to alter models of care, and methods and principles of service delivery. With these rapid changes, some longstanding barriers to the introduction of contemporary allied health-led models were able to be quickly removed and other challenges were addressed.

The Queensland Health Allied Health Professions’ Office of Queensland, in partnership with allied health professionals across the state, recognised the potential to document and investigate these innovative responses, and established an Allied Health COVID-19 Innovation Register as a repository for these new and innovative practice changes.
Online interviews were undertaken with 28 allied health, medical and nursing professionals involved in the implementation and/or management of these models. Interviews explored key factors, enablers, barriers and outcomes of the innovative practice examples.

Fundamentally, it was noted that the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic were a central driver for innovation. These circumstances led to a defined set of practices and priorities which facilitated the innovations at that time, but which also have relevance to innovation in allied health practice more broadly.

This presentation will describe the establishment of the register, outline the key practices and priorities which were identified in the qualitative study, and comment on the value of these insights to influencing future practice innovation.


Gretchen Young is director of Young Futures. She has expertise in consultation and engagement; visioning and understanding future possibilities; informing health and social policy; and developing, delivering, and evaluating services in the health, disability and community services sectors. Gretchen has led a wide range of projects with government agencies, statutory bodies, not-for-profit organisations, peak bodies, professional associations, universities, and unions.

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