Our culture normally thinks of telemedicine as being inappropriate for treating serious diseases, like in cancer treatment. But truth be told, there is a place for telemedicine in oncology. The genetic counseling team at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Center have discovered as much over the last two years.
MSK counselors were using telemedicine on a limited basis prior to the onset of the COVID crisis. But once COVID hit, their adoption of telemedicine solutions dramatically increased. Both patients and clinicians stayed home, meeting over telemedicine platforms whenever possible.
Curious to learn whether their telemedicine platform had performed up to standard, MSK assigned a number of investigators to do follow-up interviews. They discovered that patients utilizing telemedicine during the first few months of the pandemic were highly satisfied with the results. Some 75% said they would recommend telemedicine visits to others.
Telemedicine for Genetic Counseling
Telemedicine obviously is inappropriate when patients need their routine chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Furthermore, oncologists literally have to see their patients in person from time to time in order to monitor their progress. But not all visits have to be in person.
Genetic counseling sessions immediately come to mind. Genetic counseling takes place when oncologists are concerned that patients might be a risk of future hereditary cancers. Through counseling, patients are made aware of their risks and given practical ways to reduce them.
This sort of thing is vital to managing a patient’s future risks and cancer treatment options. But it doesn’t have to be done in the oncologist’s office. In fact, conducting genetic counseling via telemedicine may actually be in the patient’s best interests because data and information can be presented digitally as part of the conversation. In addition, patients cite another reason for preferring telemedicine for genetic counseling.
More Comfortable and Relaxed
That secondary benefit is the ability to meet with a counselor in a more comfortable and relaxed environment. Cancer patients are already anxious enough when visiting with healthcare providers. If they can visit from home, where they are normally more comfortable and relaxed, the chances are greater that their visits will be more productive.
It is for these types of situations that we have developed our portable telemedicine platform with built-in diagnostic tools. A single medical practice or hospital system can send nurses armed with our portable solution to patient homes where routine visits can be conducted. Built-in diagnostic tools send data directly to the clinician’s office in real time.
Medical Kiosks and Virtual Clinics
Cancer treatment is not the only area of medical expertise to benefit from modern telemedicine solutions. Just about anyone can utilize telemedicine through a local kiosk or a virtual healthcare clinic. We offer platforms for both.
The health screening kiosk is the perfect solution for primary care at a pharmacy, department store, etc. A virtual clinic takes the kiosk concept to the next level by offering a virtual healthcare space that can be staffed by a small number of professionals aided by telemedicine technology.
MSK has learned the value of telemedicine over the last two years. They have utilized it in a number of ways to care for cancer patients at those times when coming in to the office is not necessary. Telemedicine has worked so well for them that they are continuing to use it.
Could your practice or healthcare system benefit from telemedicine? We think the chances are pretty high. But of course, we would need to speak with you to fully understand how our telemedicine solutions can be applied to your business model. If you would like to know more, feel free to contact us at your leisure.