Positives in the Pandemic?

Positives in the Pandemic

Like other leaders in global collaborative health, Johns Hopkins is grappling with painful truths as we respond to COVID-19. The pandemic has limited our patients’ capacity to travel across international borders, and it’s heart-wrenching not being able to provide the clinical care that could change ― or save ― their lives. 

While health care inequities have long been an issue, the pandemic has spotlighted the stark disparities between compromised, low-income populations and other groups in terms of access to quality medical treatment. 

It would be easy to despair. Instead, let’s choose to focus on opportunities for much-needed change in how health care is delivered locally and globally. COVID-19 may be making us physically distant, but this is an unparalleled opportunity to become scientifically closer. 

At Johns Hopkins, we are more energized than ever to help other institutions establish new clinical programs and expand hospital operations. We are looking at additional ways to leverage our collaborations to increase low-cost, high-quality options for health care in countries and communities around the world. 

We are leaning in to adopt technologies that can expand access to health care education and health care delivery. Years ago, health care training programs were conducted in person, but it’s much easier to share best practices using today’s technologies. U.S. organizations are rapidly embracing telehealth, and the adoption of these innovations presents significant new ways to transfer knowledge between our experts and their counterparts at our global affiliates. 

As one example, since the outbreak of COVID-19, we have hosted timely, topical webinars in which we share what we have learned in our response and how our global affiliates can apply these best practices in their environment. In fact, Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare is exploring possibilities to work with Johns Hopkins Medicine International to sharpen health care projection models in Saudi Arabia ― important work we perhaps could replicate in other countries. 

It’s important not to limit this conversation to what can be done between health care systems. This is the time to encourage collaborations between health care entities and major technology groups. Bring them on board! 

Studies show that isolated health care facilities are not going to solve the issues we face today. We need to work together with other health systems and tech innovators to create an ecosystem that not only improves clinical services at specific points of care, but also promotes health and well-being in sound, sustainable ways.

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