Currently in this lockdown pandemic, all healthcare systems are facing the same question: “How to provide patients the care they need and at the same time stay safe”
Telehealth is now being utalised to address some of these issues. Within oncology, the need for virtual medical care is especially prominent because patients with cancer are often immunosuppressed, and with the need for regular hospital visits for treatment, makes them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19
Amid concerns for these vulnerable patients’ safety, oncology practices have “gone virtual,” scheduling video appointments for services that don't require physical diagnostic testing or treatment. These include symptom management, genetic counselling, psychiatric support and follow-up assessments after treatment, meanwhile better managing the required in-person care, by spacing out visits, minimising the number of people in waiting rooms.
These “Tele-Oncology” solutions also offer great benefits for less developed countries because of the cost savings involved, but also in rural or remote areas of high-income countries, where access to quality cancer care is often unavailable. It has the potential to enhance access to and quality of clinical cancer care, and to improve education and training.
In these past few weeks, oncology doctors and patients have grown accustomed to these virtual “Tele-Oncology” way of management and treatment.
When this COVID-19 emergency ends, it is anticipated the Oncology community will demand greater access, to it even under ordinary circumstances, and hopefully it's going to become the new normal way of Oncology care provisioning.