Tele-oncology, or telehealth for oncology, is empowering and versatile, enabling the option for hybrid care. Hybrid care incorporates in-person and virtual medical visits, adding both value and convenience to patient care.
Better Patient Engagement
Providers have access to online tools and features that enhance patient understanding and engagement, including:
- Screen share
- File Transfer
- Interactive assessment tools
Virtual Physical Exams?
Technology is more readily available in the home to assist with physical examinations. These technologies can relay necessary insight for assessments, diagnosis, and treatment from home. They also effectively impact patient engagement and accountability:
- Remote Patient Monitoring, using devices with Bluetooth and cloud capabilities.
- In-home vital sign monitors
- Health apps
- Smart watches
New research and tools are also becoming available for providers to learn best practices for virtual physical exams.
Safety and Support
Telehealth is a powerful and necessary tool for cancer treatment. This virtual tool can drastically decrease exposure risks, as immunocompromised patients can stay safely at home. It also delivers a new engaging method for patients and their support people. Family members and caregivers can be easily included in telehealth visits for planning and understanding, as we know support people are vital to success across the cancer trajectory.
Remove Obstacles to Care
Social determinants of health (SDOH) are the economic and social barriers affecting a patient’s ability to achieve greater outcomes.
Telehealth addresses patient barriers to care, as it can:
- Cut transportation needs
- Allow for greater access to care for rural areas
- Reduce treatment cost
- Require less time off of work
- Show a patient’s environmental needs
- Uncover environmental and social needs: food insecurity, underserved living conditions, and neglect.
Providers may feel they are taking away from the patient experience by not being in-person. Yet, providers are finding a better patient experience if they are prepared and timely. This complements a new practice of virtual bedside manner called “Webside Manner:”
- Camera positioning
- Cut external distractions
- Understanding eye contact through the camera
- Professional setups
Simple steps can enhance the authenticity of care that is seen and felt. Patient satisfaction even improves with thorough and direct provider time from the comfort of the home.
The Shift in Healthcare Delivery
More providers and patients are able to take advantage of the convenience and safety in Tele-Oncology because of increased awareness, education, and preparation.
Hybrid care continues to make waves throughout oncology care and across all specialties. Over time, providers will find more success and value in the delivery of clinical and compassionate care with telehealth.