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The Impact of Telemedicine During and After COVID-19

May 10, 2021

Telemedicine utilization surged in 2020 and continues to evolve as we cautiously lean into life after the COVID-19 pandemic. During the height of the pandemic, Texas Oncology accelerated expansion of its telemedicine capability, conducting more than 500 telemedicine visits per day.

The Benefits of Telemedicine During COVID-19

According to Debra Patt, M.D., Ph.D., MBA, executive vice president, public policy and strategic initiatives, telemedicine has armed her with the capabilities to continue to provide high-quality cancer care to patients from the comfort of their homes.

Telemedicine visits during the pandemic allowed patients to meet with their care teams while decreasing exposure risk to COVID-19 and reducing transportation requirements as well as providing opportunities for caregivers and family members to be present during the visit. Patients also benefited from urgent telemedicine assessments that determined whether an emergency department visit or hospitalization could be avoided.

Telemedicine has been an incredible resource, a silver lining during the pandemic."

“We have used it to diagnose cancer, support patients through their cancer treatment, modify therapy, and engage caregivers in conversations about diagnosis and treatment,” said Dr. Patt. “It will forever make high-quality healthcare more accessible to the patients we serve.”

Telemedicine’s Future

Telemedicine will continue to be instrumental in ensuring patient safety during the pandemic, and physicians hope it will evolve to further enhance patient care.

A promising future for telemedicine includes better access to healthcare for rural communities, especially specialty care. For example, at Texas Oncology, patients are able to virtually meet with specialists in another city, including the team at the Texas Center for Proton Therapy located in Irving or Texas Oncology’s Austin Brain Tumor Center.

Although it isn’t a replacement for in-person care, telemedicine is expected to continue to be a valuable tool for care teams with benefits that extend beyond the pandemic.

Learn more about telemedicine at Texas Oncology.

For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.