Covid-19: Virtual care can be highly efficient for cancer patients during pandemic

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on January 08, 2021

New research has found that virtual care for cancer, especially during the time of the Covid-19 pandemic when all other diseases seemed to have been cornered, has proved to be highly satisfactory overall for care and convenience. It significantly helps in the reduction of cost.

For the study, the researchers, led by Dr. Alejandro Berlin, Oncologist, Princess Margaret Radiation teaching hospital, surveyed patients and healthcare providers at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

The findings revealed that the overall cost savings for 22,085 patients studied during the research study period between March 23, 2020, and May 22, 2020, was over $3M - potentially $18M for one year.

Eighty per cent of patients reported they were either very satisfied or satisfied with it, citing convenience as the main factor, with 72 per cent of physicians reporting similar satisfaction with it.

Moreover, 64 per cent of healthcare providers and 85 per cent of patients indicated that the quality of care was comparable or better than the in-person model of care. Sixty-six per cent of respondents in both groups - patients and physicians - were either very likely or likely to recommend virtual care for future appointments.

The researchers mentioned that both chemotherapy and radiotherapy on-site visits, along with metrics for safety and timeliness of cancer care remained stable throughout the study, comparable to the pre-Covid-19 period.

Dr. Berlin explained: "The shift to virtual care helped ensure that patients needing in-person visits, such as those receiving chemotherapy and radiation treatments could continue while decreasing traffic and facilitating physical distancing on-premises."

"It enabled our high-volume centres to take care of all our patients during an unsettling and uncertain time - without compromising on either the safety or quality of care."

Researchers also believe that this approach will help guide the transformation of telemedicine in the post-Covid-19 scenario.

The findings of the study are published in JAMA Oncology.

Published on January 08, 2021

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