Getting started: telehealth and cancer care
Learn the basic requirements for conducting cancer-related treatment and services via telehealth.
The hybrid model of care
Oncologists and other health care providers can use telehealth in a variety of ways to serve their patients and caregivers. Use cases include, but are not limited to:
- Certain routine cancer screenings
- Genetic counseling
- Consultations with specialists or second opinions for diagnoses
- Prescription management
- Remote patient monitoring
- Lifestyle and wellness services, such as nutritional and exercise recommendations
- Psychosocial care
- Palliative care
However, certain aspects of cancer care are best suited for in-person visits, such as:
- Surgical procedures
- Physical exams
- Chemotherapy infusion and radiation therapy
- Diagnostic labwork
- End-of-life discussions
A patient care plan that includes both telehealth and traditional in-person services is known as the hybrid model of care or multi-modal care. Any telehealth-focused cancer care program should consider following a hybrid model of care to provide the best possible patient experience and outcomes.
Hybrid Virtual Care Models For Optimal Patient Experience: Considerations For Healthcare Executives Nationwide - from California Telehealth Resource Center
MaineHealth And Their Multi-Modal Approach To Telehealth Implementation - from Northeast Telehealth Resource Center
How to set up a telehealth cancer program
Before taking the first steps to creating a tele-oncology program, it’s important to ask yourself questions about what your healthcare organization is capable of, or what resources you have access to.
Our guide to planning your telehealth workflow will give you more information on the business and technology basics. But there are several telehealth considerations specific to cancer care.
- How will you ensure that your telehealth platform protects patient privacy and is HIPAA compliant?
- Will you need to have multi-state licensing to use telehealth?
- What laws does your state have about online prescribing of oral chemotherapy?
- What oncology appointments or services will be offered through telehealth?
- How will you address potential technology challenges or patients who may need technical assistance?
- What telehealth cancer services are covered by private insurance companies and government programs, like Medicaid and Medicare, in your state?
- How will you measure staff readiness and willingness to implement telehealth options in cancer care delivery?
- How will oncology case managers collaborate with patients and their family members virtually?
- How will you train staff on new technology?
- How will you encourage staff who are reluctant to adopt new technology?
- What organizations can you partner with to provide components of tele-oncology or to increase the chance of telehealth cancer care success (other health care providers, local laboratories, pharmacies, support groups, palliative care professionals)?
- In what specific ways will you partner with each of these organizations?
- How will you assess the physical and psychological needs of those who provide care outside of your purview, such as family and other informal caregivers?
- What resources can you provide to meet the needs of caregivers before, during, and after telehealth cancer care?
- How will patients be screened for pain levels during telehealth visits?
- How will you provide pain relief through telehealth?
- How will psychosocial distress screening be conducted through telehealth?
- What resources are available for the delivery of psychosocial care via telehealth?
- How will your lifestyle and wellness services address psychosocial distress?