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Virtual Care Maintains Quality Cancer Care

TUESDAY, Jan. 19, 2021 -- Experience during the COVID-19 pandemic shows that virtual care at a high-volume cancer center is feasible, according to a study published online Jan. 7 in JAMA Oncology.

Alejandro Berlin, M.D., from the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, and colleagues examined the outcomes of a cancer center-wide virtual care program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The researchers report that the virtual care program launched 12 days after the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic. A mean of 514 visits per day were conducted from March 23 to May 22, 2020, comprising 68.4 percent of daily visits. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy caseloads (1,943 to 2,461 patients per week) remained stable throughout. There were no changes in institutional or provincial quality-of-care indexes. Based on 3,791 surveys (3,507 patients and 284 practitioners), 82 percent of patients and 72 percent of practitioners reported overall satisfaction with virtual care. The direct cost associated with this initiative was CAD$202,537.

"These findings suggest that implementation of virtual care at scale at a high-volume cancer center may be feasible," the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry; one author runs a consulting company that advises organizations on digital and artificial intelligence strategies.

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