Telehealth is an effective substitute for some, but not all and in-person visits for cancer care should continue beyond COVID-19 public health emergency.
Today, the Community Oncology Alliance (COA) Board of Directors released a position statement supporting the use of telehealth as a valuable supplement to in-person visits during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) (novel coronavirus) pandemic and continued usage when appropriate after the pandemic has subsided.
The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred the rapid adoption of telehealth by oncology providers. The relative ease of use by patients and providers, new regulatory options from the Trump administration, HH), and Congress, and the safety afforded by allowing remote physician visits all contributed to the near instant set up of infrastructure to support telehealth operations.
The easing of regulations and passage of interim rules was a key part of encouraging clinicians, many of whom were unfamiliar with telehealth previously, to use this new modality. Mark Thompson, MD, COA’s medical director of public policy, praised the governmental response to an increased need for flexibility during the pandemic.
“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth regulations were extremely cumbersome and limiting at the state and federal levels, with poor reimbursement. The rapid response of Federal policymakers to loosen telehealth restrictions and raise reimbursement rates were a true lifesaver for patients and practices. Community oncology practices are resilient and quickly integrated telehealth into their workflow thanks to these changes. The newfound flexibility allowed practices to pivot and seamlessly adopt new tools for caring for patients.”