Chinenye Udenna  Regis College  04/16/2021    2    Telemedicine    On January 1, 2021, Massachusetts’s governor, Charlie Baker, signed into law, new  legislation on telehealth and telemedicine. The new law expanded the scope of health  practitioners applying telemedicine in providing healthcare. As defined in the law, telemedicine  is the application of synchronous or asynchronous audio, video, electronic media, or other  telecommunications technology for patient evaluation, diagnosis, consultation, prescribing,  treatment, or monitoring of physical health, oral health, mental health, or substance use  disorders. The expansion of telemedicine services in Massachusetts aimed at ensuring continuity  of healthcare provision over the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, the Act aims at overcoming  barriers to telehealth services among healthcare providers and patients. This new law followed  the June 25, 2020, medical Boards’ policy on telehealth that scrapped the requirement of initial  contact between a healthcare specialist and patient before initiation of telemedicine services. In  ensuring coverage among insurance patients the Act made provisions that insurers should  provide coverage for services delivered through telehealth (Massachusetts Medical Society,  2020) .  In the application of asynchronous telecommunication, patient data is collected, stored,  and forwarded for review by a healthcare practitioner at a distant location. This method is  commonly referred to as store and forward. Medical imaging services such as MRI and CT Scans  often apply this method, herein; images captured are forwarded to a radiologist for reporting.  Synchronous or interactive audio and video telecommunication allow instant communication  between a patient and a healthcare specialist. This method encourages the exchange of  information in real-time allowing the provision of services such as diagnosis, counseling, and  monitoring of the patient’s condition. Medical streaming devices allow real-time exchange of    3  information between healthcare workers and patients (Foley & Lardner, 2021) . Remote patient  monitoring uses digital tools for the collection of patient health data and electronic transmission  of the data to healthcare providers at a distant location for evaluation and intervention. This  method encourages self-monitoring among patients and better management of chronic illnesses  such as diabetes mellitus, heart diseases, and end-stage renal disease. In Boston, most healthcare  facilities recommend the use of telemedicine among patients who need consistent follow-up care.  This is cost-effective for hospitals and patients as it saves time and resources. Teledermatology is  also a common telemedicine service, which patients with dermatological conditions utilize,  through sending images of their skin conditions for dermatological review.  The use of Telemedicine until recent years was limited to physicians and medical  practitioners. The diversification of the nursing practice to advanced forms has added potential to  the application of telemedicine in nursing. Among advanced nurse practitioners, telemedicine  provides cost-effective means and improves access to health services among clients (Kotsani et  al., 2018) . With the rising number of patients with chronic diseases requiring consistent  management, telenursing will expand sporadically in the next few years. The field of telenursing  also provides a solution to the existing shortages in the profession since it saves on time spent on  distant travels to patients in remote areas.  The application of telepsychiatry promotes access to healthcare among patients living in  areas with low coverage of psychiatry care. This tool offers a wide array of services such as  consultations with psychiatrists, evaluation and diagnosis, medical management therapy, follow-  up sessions, and patient education programs. The utilization of video conferencing in  telepsychiatry over the years has been successful in conducting cognitive behavioral therapy,  supportive therapy, and group therapy among patients with depression and anxiety disorders.    4  Telepsychiatry has also demonstrated success in a psychiatric emergency, through crisis  intervention programs such as online counseling, communication via emails, or messaging with  people with suicide ideation. A study conducted among 274 patients receiving clinical  consultations from the TeleMental Health program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental  Health showed that most patients were satisfied with the telepsychiatry services, sighting high  effectiveness, safety, appropriateness, and accessibility (Serhal et al., 2020) . Consistent with this  finding is that telepsychiatry has increased remote access to psychiatry care among patients.    5    References    Foley, & Lardner. (2021, January 19). New Massachusetts Telehealth Law Signed: Top 3  Changes. The National Law Review. https://www.natlawreview.com/article/new-  massachusetts-telehealth-law-signed-top-3-changes  Kotsani, K., Antonopoulou, V., Kountouri, A., Grammatiki, M., Rapti, E., Karras, S., Trakatelli,  C., Tsaklis, P., Kazakos, K., & Kotsa, K. (2018). The role of telenursing in the  management of Diabetes Type 1: A randomized controlled trial. International Journal of  Nursing Studies, 80, 29–35. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2018.01.003  Massachusetts Medical Society. (2020). Telehealth FAQs. http://www.massmed.org/Patient-  Care/COVID-19/Telehealth-FAQ/  Serhal, E., Kirvan, A., Sanches, M., & Crawford, A. (2020). Client Satisfaction and Experience  With Telepsychiatry: Development and Validation of a Survey Using Clinical Quality  Domains. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(9), e19198.  https://doi.org/10.2196/19198

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