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BMC Cancer ; 21(1): 1094, 2021 Oct 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1463236


BACKGROUND: To ensure safe delivery of oncologic care during the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine has been rapidly adopted. However, little data exist on the impact of telemedicine on quality and accessibility of oncologic care. This study assessed whether conducting an office visit for thoracic oncology patients via telemedicine affected time to treatment initiation and accessibility. METHODS: This was a retrospective cohort study of patients with thoracic malignancies seen by a multidisciplinary team during the first surge of COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia (March 1 to June 30, 2020). Patients with an index visit for a new phase of care, defined as a new diagnosis, local recurrence, or newly discovered metastatic disease, were included. RESULTS: 240 distinct patients with thoracic malignancies were seen: 132 patients (55.0%) were seen initially in-person vs 108 (45.0%) via telemedicine. The majority of visits were for a diagnosis of a new thoracic cancer (87.5%). Among newly diagnosed patients referred to the thoracic oncology team, the median time from referral to initial visit was significantly shorter amongst the patients seen via telemedicine vs. in-person (median 5.0 vs. 6.5 days, p < 0.001). Patients received surgery (32.5%), radiation (24.2%), or systemic therapy (30.4%). Time from initial visit to treatment initiation by modality did not differ by telemedicine vs in-person: surgery (22 vs 16 days, p = 0.47), radiation (27.5 vs 27.5 days, p = 0.86, systemic therapy (15 vs 13 days, p = 0.45). CONCLUSIONS: Rapid adoption of telemedicine allowed timely delivery of oncologic care during the initial surge of the COVID19 pandemic by a thoracic oncology multi-disciplinary clinic.

COVID-19/epidemiology , Health Services Accessibility , Pandemics , Telemedicine/organization & administration , Thoracic Neoplasms/therapy , Time-to-Treatment , Aged , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Neoplasm Recurrence, Local , Patient Care Team , Philadelphia/epidemiology , Quality of Health Care , Referral and Consultation , Retrospective Studies , Telemedicine/standards , Telemedicine/statistics & numerical data , Thoracic Neoplasms/epidemiology , Thoracic Neoplasms/pathology , Time Factors