Purpose: With the development of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, health care practices and radiation oncology departments have begun to incorporate telemedicine services to practice social distancing and minimize the chances of disease spread. Given the severity of this pandemic, it will likely fundamentally affect the use of these services for years to come. Our institution and radiation oncology department have used telemedicine services for many years; we would like to report on our departmental experience to guide other radiation oncology practices on its long-term use for clinical evaluation and patient care. Methods and Materials: Our institution's telemedicine program provides clinical services for a number of remote locations and represents the largest telehealth network in the world, with over 300 sites and 60,000 patient encounters a year. Results: Specifically for our radiation oncology department, over 200 patient encounters occur via telemedicine a year. Patients report great appreciation and satisfaction with these encounters, as they eliminate the time and energy needed for travel from long distances. It has resulted in improved efficiency and cost-effectiveness as well. Conclusions: Based on our institutional experience, our long-term vision for telemedicine (after COVID-19 pandemic has hopefully subsided) is as an excellent and cost-efficient tool to provide long-term follow-up for patients, especially for those who live far away in rural or underserved areas.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging