The Lynx Group
Association for Value-Based Care

Telehealth and the Impact on Cancer Care

Conference Correspondent

In the November 17 session of the Association for Value-Based Cancer Care (AVBCC) 10th Annual Summit, Ann Mond Johnson, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association, moderated a panel discussion on the early challenges of telehealth during the pandemic and the future of cancer care.

Melissa Dillmon, MD, FASCO, Hematologist/Oncologist at Harbin Clinic Medical Oncology Rome, said that her office did not have experience in telehealth when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Physicians and patients did not possess the technology required for telehealth visits, leading to a sudden need for webcams, Wi-Fi, and patient education.

Kim Thiboldeaux, Chief Executive Officer of Cancer Support Community, said that the greatest risk factor for cancer is older age and many elderly patients are not comfortable with telehealth. Ms Thiboldeaux predicted a shortage of healthcare workers, making telemedicine the most efficient way to serve a large volume of patients.

Chevon Rariy, MD, National Director of Telehealth at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, noted that her center had an established telehealth program in place before the pandemic hit. She believes a hybrid model would be best for cancer care, allowing for quicker access for those who need it the most and a positive impact on the clinical outcomes of patients.

Jason Tibbels, MD, Chief Quality Officer of Teladoc Health, was also prepared with the proper technology for the pandemic. During the height of the public health crisis, Teladoc was seeing approximately 20,000 patients a day, doubling their normal volume of visits. Many of the visits were not COVID-19–related; patients were often utilizing the telehealth visits for mental health or chronic illness management.

From a patient perspective, Ms Thiboldeaux said that patients believe their clinical needs are being met with telehealth, but they miss the personal connection of in-office visits.

Cancer is difficult enough without a pandemic. After a diagnosis, patients experience uncertainty, complicated treatment plans, and multiple visits with various specialists. Telehealth could help streamline the process and bring the care closer to home.

It’s not too late to register for the AVBCC Summit! By registering, you can gain access to these in-depth, expert views on the future of value in oncology practices.

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