How Telemedicine Can Benefit You and Your Patients

How Telemedicine Can Benefit You and Your Patients

Telemedicine can strengthen communications between you and your patients, and between providers and interdisciplinary teams. It allows all parties to access information at their convenience and when they need it the most. This feature is especially beneficial for your patients who live in rural communities and cannot attend frequent in-person healthcare visits.

This book will hopefully answer questions on these topics. It aims to enlighten emerging providers, administrators, and clinicians about the benefits of telemedicine and telehealth. With knowledge comes power and the ability to effect change. The future of telemedicine is in the hands of those who are rendering services.

Medical lectures, discussions, and diagnostic procedures are some of the many educational activities that can take place via live video using telemedicine. Telemedicine provides the ultimate platform for medical education and knowledge sharing, especially for you and other medical students furthering their medical careers. Patients who want to learn more about their medications, treatment options, and other healthcare information can talk to you briefly using telemedicine without having to schedule an in-person visit for a later date.

Telemedicine has a greater outreach than in-person medical treatment, as it eliminates the need for your patients to travel or use caregivers in situations where they may have difficulty attending in-person visits. Telemedicine also gives your patients the opportunity to be treated in privacy and in the comfort of their own homes without having to worry about exposing their medical conditions or concerns to those uninvolved in their healthcare decisions.

Work, school, and family obligations are common barriers that may prevent your patients from seeing you and other medical providers regularly and as needed. Telemedicine eliminates the need for excessive travel. It can work around your patients’ busy schedules at times that are most convenient for themselves and their families.

Telemedicine may be a more affordable healthcare option for patients without insurance plans, especially as it eliminates their need to spend money on traveling expenses. It also prevents your patients from having to take extra time off work to attend in-person appointments, which may result in lower paychecks. Telemedicine can save money for you as a healthcare provider. It can also reduce costs related to medical supplies such as disposable tissue sheets and gloves that you usually have to replace between every patient visit.

Support for telemedicine is more accessible than ever before, as many app developers and educational platforms exist to help healthcare organizations build and maintain their digital health platforms. If you’re interested in implementing telemedicine into your healthcare practice, it’s available at a relatively low cost. Its benefits far outweigh any disadvantages, and it can reach a greater number of prospective and current patients.

Inside Our Education Issue: Nursing, Learning, and Teaching in the Digital Information Era

Inside Our Education Issue: Nursing, Learning, and Teaching in the Digital Information Era

For many, education is a young adult experience that culminates in a diploma and is usually ignored after one enters the “real world.”

But for a nurse, education is an essential, ongoing professional pursuit. RNs must fulfil obligatory contact hours or CEUs, and career advancement in nursing is fueled by attaining certifications, earning an MSN, a DNP, an Ed.D… The options, the possibilities — and the alphabet following your name – may seem to grow every year.

In the new Minority Nurse/DailyNurse Education issue, we look at the nursing profession as it navigates the often-choppy waters of the digital era of information (and misinformation). These articles explore ways in which nurses are using technology to pursue their commitment to lifelong learning, provide comfort to patients and families, and keep those in their care informed and safe.

In this issue:

Whether it’s enhancing your professional knowledge through certification to succeed in your career or learning to identify your own unconscious biases to help fight systemic racism, it’s important that we continue on our journey of lifelong learning.

To explore the full Education issue on our Issuu site, click here.

 

Breen HCP Protection Act Enters Home Stretch

Breen HCP Protection Act Enters Home Stretch

As we say goodbye and good riddance to a Delta August filled with distressing news, the Senate passage of the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act (S. 610) was a bright spot in a dark month. The news is especially significant, coming as it does at a time that has been almost unbearably stressful for nurses and other health care workers.

“For far too long, the stoic culture of self-sufficiency in the health care community has driven stigmatized health issues underground.”

—Jennifer Breen Feist

On August 6, the US Senate called a brief halt to their internecine battles and unanimously passed the act. Aimed to dramatically increase support and reduce the stigma of seeking mental health assistance among health care professionals, the bill is named in honor of Dr. Lorna Breen, a New York City emergency room physician who cared for Covid patients at the height of the horrific NYC outbreak in 2020. Breen contracted the virus herself and committed suicide after returning to treat the sick New Yorkers who continued pouring into city hospitals (and all too often ended up housed in refrigerated morgue trucks).

Landmark Legislation Protecting the Mental Health of HCWs

This landmark legislation is the first to allocate specific funds towards grants for training students, residents, and health care professionals in evidence-informed strategies to reduce and prevent suicide, burnout, mental health conditions, and substance use disorders. An ANA statement celebrated the Senate passage, calling the act “Timely and critical legislation [that] will help reduce and prevent mental and behavioral health conditions… among health care professionals, especially those who continue to be overwhelmed by the COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.”

“Simply put, without a healthy and whole nursing workforce, we will be unable to meet the ever-growing needs of our patients and deploy successful COVID-19 response efforts. The Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act is a good first step in what will be a years-long process of caring for those who have long cared for us.” 

—Ernest J. Grant

ANA President Dr. Ernest J. Grant, Ph.D., RN, FAAN also praised the nation’s nurses for their role in promoting the act: “Nurse advocates sent over 6,300 emails to Congress in support of this bill. Nurses know that the damaging aftereffects of the pandemic will linger long after they have intubated their final COVID-19 patients and grieved the loss of colleagues and loved ones. Grant added, “Simply put, without a healthy and whole nursing workforce, we will be unable to meet the ever-growing needs of our patients and deploy successful COVID-19 response efforts. The Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act is a good first step in what will be a years-long process of caring for those who have long cared for us.”

Breen’s sister, Jennifer Breen Feist, one of the most dedicated advocates of the act, said, “For far too long, the stoic culture of self-sufficiency in the health care community has driven stigmatized health issues underground. We sincerely thank the tireless efforts of Senator Tim Kaine in shedding light on this alarming trend, and Senators Cassidy, Young, and Reed for their leadership of this cause.”  Breen Feist co-founded the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation to advocate for the law and “to reduce burnout of health care professionals and safeguard their well-being and job satisfaction. We envision a world where seeking mental health services is universally viewed as a sign of strength for health care professionals.”

“Even before the pandemic, far too many health care workers suffered from work-related burnout and depression,” said Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.), lead sponsor on the bill. “Unfortunately, these mental health challenges have only been exacerbated during COVID-19, putting the well-being of our healers at risk. I’m proud to see my bipartisan Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, legislation to equip our medical professionals with resources to cope with the challenges they face, pass the Senate today and get one step closer to becoming law.”

The legislation has been passed back to the House, which will review the amended version after resuming in mid-September.

Summary of Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act

This bill establishes grants and requires other activities to improve mental and behavioral health among health care providers.

  • Specifically, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) must award grants to hospitals, medical professional associations, and other health care entities for programs to promote mental health and resiliency among health care providers. In addition, HHS may award grants for relevant mental and behavioral health training for health care students, residents, or professionals.
  • Additionally, HHS must conduct a campaign to encourage health care providers to seek support and treatment for mental and behavioral health concerns and disseminate best practices to prevent suicide and improve mental health and resiliency among health care providers.
  • HHS must also study and develop policy recommendations on
    • improving mental and behavioral health among health care providers,
    • removing barriers to accessing care and treatment, and
    • identifying strategies to promote resiliency.

 

For more about Dr. Breen’s life, see https://drlornabreen.org/about-lorna/.

 

 

Ethical Issues in Healthcare

Ethical Issues in Healthcare

High ethical standards are essential in healthcare. Four fundamental principles lay the foundation for healthcare ethics.

  • Autonomy honors patients’ right to make their own decisions.
  • Beneficence helps patients advance their own good.
  • Nonmaleficence does no harm to patients.
  • Justice ensures that patients are treated equally, fairly and impartially.

Current ethical issues in healthcare center on these guiding principles. Healthcare professionals must be prepared to navigate the following issues.

5 Ethical Issues in Healthcare

1.    Improving Access to Care

The Department of Health and Human Services identified access to healthcare as an objective for its Healthy People 2010 and Healthy People 2020 initiatives. In 2012, only 83.1 percent of people had medical insurance. The latest figures from the National Health Interview Survey show that 12.5 percent of adults under age 65 are uninsured. Improving access to care has been a central issue in healthcare for many years. This includes not just private insurance but also Medicare, Medicaid, military and other government health insurance plans.

2.    Protecting Patient Privacy and Confidentiality

Violating a patient’s privacy and confidentiality can have legal and ethical consequences for healthcare providers and professionals. Patients’ medical information is protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Topics like increases in data breaches and smartphone usage highlight the ongoing need to understand this ethical issue.

3.    Building and Maintaining a Strong Healthcare Workforce

“The U.S. has been dealing with a nursing deficit of varying degrees for decades, but today … this shortage is on the cusp of becoming a crisis, one with worrying implications for patients and health-care providers alike,” according to The Atlantic. An aging population, the rising prevalence of chronic disease and an aging nursing workforce are contributing to the shortage.

If healthcare providers are unable to develop and sustain a strong workforce, patient care will suffer, as the American Association of Colleges of Nursing notes. Yet, accomplishing this in the midst of a nursing shortage is difficult. Nurse retention strategies should become a central focus for all hospitals and healthcare institutions.

4.    Marketing Practices

As of 2016, the U.S. healthcare industry was spending almost $30 billion per year in marketing and advertising to consumers, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association. Yet some question the ethics of a healthcare provider spending so much to promote its services or even a specific medicine or technology (whether or not the maker is named). Examples of hospitals getting involved in commercial endorsements for pay have highlighted this issue even more.

An institution can have ethics committees review the facility’s marketing practices to help prevent any missteps. Healthcare professionals should consult with their employer before making testimonials.

5.    Care Quality vs. Efficiency

Balancing quality and safety with efficiency is a difficult challenge, which is amplified given the increasing pressure hospitals face to lower the cost of healthcare while improving quality. “It raises a real question about whether the right values are driving our focus in our healthcare system,” Cynda Hylton Rushton, PhD, RN, told AMN Healthcare Briefings. “Should efficiency be the driver?”

The Role of Nursing Leaders

Skilled and knowledgeable nursing leaders can oversee nursing staff members, helping and mentoring them along the way. More leadership in nursing is needed to achieve a higher quality of care and properly respond to major ethical issues.

Alvernia University’s online RN to BSN Completion Program helps nurses enhance their careers and pursue leadership positions. In a flexible and convenient online environment, the programs allow nurses to reach their goals while maintaining their current work and personal schedules.

How to Advocate for Patients Seeking Medical Cannabis

How to Advocate for Patients Seeking Medical Cannabis

The use of medical cannabis is becoming more widespread now that it’s legalized in 33 states and the District of Columbia. If you’re a nurse or doctor who can legally prescribe medical cannabis, teaching your patients about this treatment and how it works can bring them one step closer toward achieving better health and improving their medical conditions.

The following tips can help you advocate for patients who may be seeking medical cannabis.

Explain How Medical Cannabis Works

The cannabis (marijuana) plant contains more than 100 cannabinoids—each of which produces different effects depending on which receptors they bind to in the body and brain. THC and CBD are the most well-known cannabinoids when it comes to cannabis. THC offers therapeutic effects of reducing pain, nausea, and inflammation. CBD offers similar health benefits and more without producing a psychoactive high like THC.

When explaining to your patients how medical cannabis works, discuss the differences between different cannabinoid ratios and how that will affect their symptoms. If your patients are concerned about a psychoactive high, assure them that you can prescribe medical cannabis that can effectively improve their condition or symptoms without producing a psychoactive high. Recommend your patient discuss this concern with a licensed medical cannabis pharmacist for best results.

Talk About How Medical Cannabis Can Be Used

Medical cannabis can be smoked, vaporized, ingested, applied topically, or taken as a liquid extract. Each consumption method has a different onset time and depends on your patient’s tolerance level. Smoking or vaporizing medical cannabis produces near-immediate effects, while medical cannabis edibles can take up to 2 hours to start producing medical effects. Smoking cannabis is not medically recommended since this method burns off the majority of the therapeutic medical cannabinoids.

Talk to your patients about their options for using medical cannabis and about which method may be most ideal for them based on their personal preferences and medical condition.

Discuss Possible Drug Interactions

Medical cannabis is highly therapeutic when used on its own, but may cause unexpected adverse reactions when used with certain types of medications. When discussing medical cannabis with your patients, ask about the medications they’re currently using and help them stay safe by educating about possible drug interactions. Medications that may cause adverse reactions when used with medical cannabis include warfarin, pentobarbital, oxymorphone, and disulfiram. 

Want to learn more? Visit our new clinical cannabis channel

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