Telemedicine has come into his own since the start of the COVID pandemic. Though it has been around for a while, the pandemic forced it to the forefront of healthcare delivery. As a result, telemedicine has finally hit its stride. It is proving a worthwhile investment in everything from primary care to mental health. It is even being utilized for cancer treatment.
Cancer is one of those diseases for which many people believe telemedicine is inappropriate. It is just assumed that cancer patients should see their oncologists every time they need something. Oncologists do not necessarily agree. Neither do patients.
Telemedicine Is Viewed Favorably
According to a recent report from the Corsicana Daily Sun (Corsicana, TX) the vast majority of cancer patients who have utilized telemedicine view it favorably. The Daily Sun cites data revealing that, among patients using telemedicine services:
- 92% say it saved their lives
- 82% say it improved their overall health.
As for clinicians, a majority of 200 surveyed oncologists indicated they were satisfied with telemedicine and planned to continue using it. Some 60% reported that “video visits were sufficient for managing some aspects of patient care.”
More Than Just Video Visits
The data cited by the Daily Sun seems to be weighted toward video services. However, modern telemedicine goes way beyond mere video. A Texas company known as CSI Health makes state-of-the-art healthcare kiosks that are essentially telemedicine solutions (Vsit https://csihealth.net/ for more information) with full diagnostic capabilities. Their kiosks include a range of diagnostic tools, from sonogram to ECG/EKG.
Equipping remote telemedicine solutions with diagnostic tools ups the game considerably. Diagnostic tools give physicians real-time data they can use in concert with verbal consultations and video images. It allows them to replicate the in-office visit fairly accurately.
How Telemedicine Is Being Utilized
Discussing telemedicine’s potential to enhance Cancer treatment is only theoretical until it is implemented. Fortunately, implementation has already begun. Here are just some of the ways it is being utilized to help cancer patients get through their treatments:
- Virtual urgent care visits
- Lifestyle counseling
- Symptom and side effect management
- Between-visit checkups
- Treatment education
- Prescription management
- Referrals to specialists
- Ongoing patient monitoring.
Cancer treatments are incredibly complex. They require constant interaction between patient and oncologist. But here’s the rub: cancer patients in the midst of chemotherapy and radiation treatment suffer from compromised immune systems. They need to be incredibly careful whenever they leave the house. Quite frankly, they need to be careful at home, too.
Running off to an urgent care center after being exposed to someone with the flu could prove dangerous for a cancer patient. Such a visit doesn’t necessarily require a face-to-face meeting with the doctor. Virtual care can get the job done in a safer way.
A New Way to Deliver Healthcare
As telemedicine technology improves, it is offering a new and better way to deliver healthcare services. It is nothing to be afraid of. The growing acceptance of telemedicine within oncology is proof of that. Oncologists and their patients are discovering that telemedicine brings a lot of positives to the treatment arena.
If telemedicine can enhance cancer care, it stands to reason that it could enhance care in all types of medical specialties. The first two that come to mind are primary care and mental health. As it turns out, the two specialties are the main users of telemedicine right now.
None of us wants to hear that we have been diagnosed with cancer. But we can take solace in the fact that cancer treatments have never been better. With the addition of telemedicine, ongoing cancer care doesn’t have to be as difficult as it once was.