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Perspective | Necessity Also Is the Mother of Innovation

We like telehealth; and today’s social distancing is tomorrow’s lower frequency for all disease

By Mark Green

Mark Green is the editorial director of The Lane Report.

Challenging times and big problems bring stress and reveal the weaknesses we successfully ignore when times are good, but they also bring out the best in many people and manage to bring us together. What an opportunity 2020 and the coronavirus pandemic is presenting!

If we maintain the unity of effort coming to the fore in the most difficult year nearly all of us have ever seen, we will emerge better and healthier and more productive than ever. Kentuckians are being innovative and creative and sacrificing to help their families, their neighbors, coworkers, businesses, organizations, communities, commonwealth and country.

Social distancing does not come naturally to many of us. We are doing this, and undertaking many more measures, though, to protect ourselves not just individually but collectively. We are becoming more aware of basic health practices that today prevent the spread of a particularly vicious virus and in the future will prevent the spread of many other infectious health problems.

Current practices will be carried forward for months at least—until amazing medical researchers and clinicians develop effective treatments and vaccines for COVID-19. By that time, our disease-prevention exercises will be habit.

We are developing a heightened awareness of how infections are transmitted, and we are learning what breaks the chain. Some of it is simple—wash your hands, use gloves, keep your droplet particles to yourself with a mask. And some of it is more technical—soapy washing disinfects and so does washing surfaces in UVC light. The more steps are combined, the more effective they are.

It is reasonable to expect that we will lower the transmission of all infectious diseases moving forward. That sounds like a significant win.

Yes, the coronavirus shutdown and other responses are costing our economy TRILLIONS of dollars. More than 20 million Americans have lost their jobs, way too many of them permanently. However, the majority of us in our lifetimes have seen and come through great difficulty such as 9/11 and the monumental financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. They were painful but taught us we will figure today’s unprecedented difficulties out, too.

Difficulty forces innovation and creative solutions and spurs a willingness to try out new solutions. As The Lane Report has presented in its very recent issues, medical providers and operations here in Kentucky this year moved forward their plans to expand telehealth platforms and offer more telehealth tools at warp speed, doing in 10 days this spring what they planned to do over the rest of 2020 and all of 2021. And the improvement that resulted has been revelatory.

Medical specialist care that is in short supply across rural Kentucky is being projected digitally into community hospitals and clinics. Specialists are seeing patients without driving an hour or more each way. Older Kentuckians can see their doctor quicker and more conveniently at home without leaving the house.

Many of us have had our first telehealth visit in the past couple of months—and find it much preferable to an office visit.

Even more of us have worked at home some or all of the past few months and quickly found it is not only not bad, it is good. Tech businesses and others decided quickly this will be permanent.

We are just starting to learn the lessons of the innovations large and small we are inventing daily. It is making us better.

Mark Green is editorial director of The Lane Report. Opinions expressed are those of the writer and not The Lane Report.