When the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) received the green light from the state to reopen some in-person doctor visits at a limited capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, new healthcare telemedicine technology like Telehealth has emerged as a lifeline for patients and doctors.
Over the course of the pandemic, the Health Center has relied heavily on Telehealth technology to keep quality healthcare going while maintaining social distancing.
Last week, telemedicine got a boost from Rep. Adrian Madaro and his colleagues through a new House bill that will enable patients to access healthcare services via telemedicine and provide vital funding to community hospitals in the midst of COVID-19.
An Act to promote resilience in our health care system (H.4916) mandates telehealth coverage for primary care services, behavioral health and chronic disease management – all areas that have experienced success with remote care in recent months – for at-home patients.
According to Madaro, the bill authorizes the Health Policy Commission to issue recommendations on future telehealth services for at-home use. Under the bill, insurers must cover services delivered by a wide range of technologies, including audio-only telephone calls, but may also pay a greater rate for the use of audio-video technology like Telehealth.
Under the new MassHealth enrollees must be reimbursed for telehealth services at the same rate as in-person services until July 31, 2021
“The COVID-19 emergency has highlighted both the effectiveness of telehealth in addressing barriers to care, as well as the effective role community health centers play in delivering these vital services to the populations that need it most,” said Rep. Madaro. “East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, which has been recognized in the media as being a leader in telemedicine services, along with similar community health centers have provided essential care to residents using these new methods and technology throughout the COVID-19 emergency. This legislation provides critical funding to support these efforts, and helps enhance access to healthcare in our communities”.
EBNHC introduced Telehealth over a year ago in limited capacities, but the COVID-19 pandemic has moved the relatively new healthcare technology to the forefront.
There’s a lot of pent up demand for healthcare out there during the pandemic and Telehealth is a good way to check in with EBNHC providers while still practicing social distancing.
Telehealth is the remote delivery of health care services and clinical information using communications technology, including the internet, wireless, satellite and phone media.
So far the Health Center has had thousands of Telehealth visits while patients remain safe in their homes.
Telehealth has become of paramount importance to ensure the safety of patients and health care providers. It allows patients the opportunity to seamlessly continue their care while practicing social distancing, remaining in their home, and minimizing their exposure to the virus.
“Telemedicine has transformed care at EBNHC, allowing us to care for patients in the comfort of their homes,” said CEO of East Boston Neighborhood Health Center Manny Lopes. “We appreciate our elected officials allowing us to continue this care and maintain the gains especially in primary care and behavioral health.”