Click Here to
Subscribe
Breaking
News, Updates,
& More
Stay Up
to Date

COVID-19: Impact on Telehealth

Web Exclusives - AVBCC COVID-19 Webcast Series, COVID-19

Telehealth has emerged as an essential component of healthcare during the COVID-19 crisis. In a wide-ranging discussion, a panel of experts discussed the current benefits and ongoing challenges of this technology, as well as its potential impact on patients and practices in the years to come.

“It’s taken this crisis to push us to a new frontier, but there’s absolutely no going back,” said the moderator of the discussion, Rick Lee, Executive Chairman, Healthy Platforms and CancerLife, as he referred to the speed with which patients and providers have embraced telemedicine. He provided a summary of the changes that have occurred since the beginning of the pandemic, including decisions by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that have allowed expanded use of telehealth services. These changes have led to a significant increase in the number of telehealth visits that have occurred, contributing to the widespread acceptance of this modality.

Although telemedicine is now widely accepted, there are certain complexities related to administration and practice that must be appropriately managed for continued success.

“Having regulatory experience is imperative, in particular during this time when things are very fast-moving and fast-paced and we’re seeing changes in CMS rules and regulations almost biweekly,” said Chevon Rariy, MD, Director, Telehealth, Cancer Treatment Centers of America. In particular, “medical records maintenance is key” when deploying a telehealth program that is embedded within a larger healthcare system, he noted.

Brian Leyland-Jones, MD, Chief Medical Officer, National Foundation for Cancer Research, pointed out that in the delivery of specialized healthcare in a rural environment, where patients were required to travel up to 500 miles to a clinic, systems were already in place and functioning well. “We have all adjusted so rapidly,” he said.

During the discussion, the experts also considered the ways in which telehealth services can be used to address patient needs beyond the immediate impact of the coronavirus. For example, the use of telehealth services for patients with illnesses other than cancer is a potential area of expansion. It is already being used in some programs to mitigate loneliness among patients whose illness or geography results in social distancing that is not solely pandemic-related. “Loneliness is disease agnostic,” Karen Keown, RN, Co-Founder, Vida Healthcare, said, referring to these patients.

The panelists also explored how telemedicine could potentially affect clinical trials and other multidisciplinary applications. “There is a concern that they cannot get enough patients into clinical trials and it’s hurting research. And then there’s the retention aspect.” Rethinking protocols could have a positive impact on areas of research going forward, said Bob Gold, Chief Behavioral Technologist and CEO, GoMo Health.

Although proposed expansions in telemedicine show promise, none are without drawbacks. One crucial factor is the extent to which payers would be open to covering these services.

Webcast host Burt Zweigenhaft, PhD, D.Litt, Founder, Association for Value-Based Cancer Care, acknowledged that it may be more complex in a post–COVID-19 environment. “I’m hoping that the combination of government, private enterprise, and providers will be the solution,” he said.

Related Items
Update on COVID-19 Vaccine Development
TOP - November 2020 Vol 13, No 6 published on November 9, 2020 in AVBCC COVID-19 Webcast Series, COVID-19
Drug Manufacturers Focus on Helping Patients with Cancer Gain Access to Treatment
TOP - November 2020 Vol 13, No 6 published on November 9, 2020 in AVBCC COVID-19 Webcast Series
COVID-19: Facing the Challenges Ahead
Patricia Stewart
TOP - November 2020 Vol 13, No 6 published on November 9, 2020 in AACR Highlights, COVID-19
COVID-19 Increases Overall Risk for Death in Patients with Cancer
Patricia Stewart
TOP - November 2020 Vol 13, No 6 published on November 9, 2020 in AACR Highlights, COVID-19
Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors Do Not Increase Mortality in Patients with Cancer and COVID-19
Patricia Stewart
TOP - November 2020 Vol 13, No 6 published on November 9, 2020 in AACR Highlights, COVID-19
Webinar Panelist Discusses COVID-19 and Hematology Oncology Pharmacy
Web Exclusives published on August 11, 2020 in COVID-19
Potential for Anti-Cancer Agents in the Treatment of COVID-19
Web Exclusives published on July 20, 2020 in AVBCC COVID-19 Webcast Series
Oncology Home Infusions in the Post–COVID-19 World
Web Exclusives published on July 20, 2020 in AVBCC COVID-19 Webcast Series
Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis
Web Exclusives published on June 2, 2020 in AVBCC COVID-19 Webcast Series, COVID-19
Actuarial View of COVID-19: Payers, Providers, and Healthcare Reform
Web Exclusives published on June 2, 2020 in AVBCC COVID-19 Webcast Series, COVID-19
Last modified: May 19, 2020