The Role of Telemedicine in Cancer Care: Enhancing Communication and Outcomes

The Role of Telemedicine in Cancer Care: Enhancing Communication and Outcomes

Cancer is a complex disease that requires tailored treatment plans and ongoing monitoring. Telemedicine, which encompasses virtual care and electronic health record (EHR) integration, offers a promising solution to improve cancer care. Kathy Dalton Ford, Chief Product and Strategy Officer at Ronin, a clinical oncology software company, believes that telemedicine can significantly benefit cancer patients and healthcare providers.

One of the primary advantages of telemedicine in oncology is its flexibility. Telemedicine is best suited for low-acuity situations, where patients can communicate with their care teams asynchronously. For cancer patients experiencing adverse events, such as nausea and lethargy, having a secure and reliable method to connect with their clinical team is crucial. Telemedicine tools that offer asynchronous communication methods and provide educational resources allow patients to report side effects and seek guidance from their healthcare providers. This approach enhances convenience and ensures that patients receive timely advice on managing their symptoms.

Integrating electronic-reported outcomes with the EHR further enhances the effectiveness of virtual oncology care. Electronic-reported outcomes provide specific and contextual information about patients’ symptoms, enabling clinicians to take precise actions. By having this information readily available within the EHR, clinicians can triage patients based on severity levels and prioritize care accordingly. This process helps prevent adverse events and reduces unnecessary emergency department visits.

Efficient communication is a vital aspect of cancer care, and telemedicine offers various avenues for physicians and nurses to interact with patients throughout their treatment journey. Telemedicine can be synchronous or asynchronous, providing flexibility for both healthcare providers and patients. For instance, when clinicians are engaged with other patients, asynchronous communication methods allow them to respond to messages based on severity without interrupting ongoing care. However, the use of portals for communication can be inefficient, requiring manual filtering and distribution of patient questions. Electronic-reported outcomes offer a more streamlined approach, enabling clinicians to provide efficient and personalized care by addressing patient concerns outside of regular office hours.

The successful implementation of telemedicine in cancer care is contingent on the integration of electronic-reported outcomes with the EHR. This integration ensures a seamless workflow for clinicians and reduces the need for separate applications or non-secure communication tools. Clinicians can access patient-reported symptoms directly within the EHR, without additional intervention. By automating this process, healthcare providers can focus more on patient care and make informed clinical decisions based on real-time data.

Providence St. John’s Health System’s implementation of Ronin’s cancer intelligence platform exemplifies the benefits of electronic-reported outcomes in cancer care. The system enables continuous patient-provider communication, allowing clinicians to manage expectations and address anxieties throughout the complex treatment journey. Prompt intervention based on reported symptoms can prevent adverse events, unnecessary office visits, and lengthy commutes for patients. The patient-centered design of these tools fosters productive communication, enabling personalized care and improved patient outcomes.

In conclusion, telemedicine, particularly the integration of electronic-reported outcomes with the EHR, holds great potential for enhancing cancer care. By providing convenient and secure communication channels, telemedicine improves patient satisfaction, ensures timely intervention, and reduces healthcare burdens. As technology continues to advance, incorporating telemedicine into cancer care workflows can deliver more efficient, personalized, and patient-centered treatments.

– Interview with Kathy Dalton Ford, Chief Product and Strategy Officer at Ronin.
– Healthcare IT News.

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