Dr Debra Patt: Telemedicine’s Contribution to Cancer Care Robust and Meaningful

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SAP Partners | <b>US Oncology Network</b>

Debra Patt, MD, PhD, MBA, executive vice president of Texas Oncology, discusses how enhancements to telemedicine precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic have made lasting and meaningful changes to oncology care, including that these care improvements will persist post pandemic.

Debra Patt, MD, PhD, MBA, executive vice president of Texas Oncology, discusses how enhancements to telemedicine precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic have made lasting and meaningful changes to oncology care, including that these care improvements will persist post pandemic.

Transcript

Are we starting to settle in to where telemedicine fits and what are some best practices for its use in cancer care?

Telemedicine has grown tremendously during the pandemic. We’ve all been using it quite a bit, especially during surges of COVID. I think it’s identified really that this is an incredibly useful tool to deliver care to patients where they are. It can be useful for new patients, for established patients, for acute care patients. I’ve avoided sending people to the emergency room on the weekend call because of telemedicine, because I was able to see and evaluate something. I’ve evaluated inflammatory breast cancer as a new cancer patient. I’ve made hundreds of medication changes.

In my practice in Texas Oncology, which is part of the US Oncology Network, we’ve done about 400,000 telemedicine visits since the beginning of the pandemic and really launched a virtual care strategy, which is now a priority for all of the US Oncology Network, thinking about what can we deliver virtually and how can this support patients.

I will say, too, that we’ve even launched digital health platforms to support care delivery during the pandemic: patient education that they get electronically, a new patient portal across the US Oncology Network, triage care management that’s done virtually, and also an electronic patient-reported outcomes instrument called Health Tracker. Those 4 digital platforms really are enhancing care delivery, and they’re all digital solutions. They’re all clinical informatics tools.

So even though it was challenging to do these things during the pandemic, because we’ve all been very busy—work has not been minimal—I think that it’s been the most meaningful change that we’ve made to care delivery enhancements. And I think that they’ll be robust. I think they will persist and continue to serve patients even after this pandemic has come and gone.