Physicians’ Perceptions on the Role of Telemedicine in Cancer Care During and Post-COVID-19 Pandemic
Objectives. This study aims to determine perceptions of physicians in our institution on the role of telemedicine in cancer care during the COVID-19 pandemic and to assess its perceived benefits and barriers.
Methods. This is a cross-sectional study of physicians involved in cancer care in a tertiary referral hospital in the Philippines. We administered a 21-item online survey questionnaire between August to October 2020.
Results. We received and analyzed 84 physician responses. Ninety-six percent of physicians currently use telemedicine, an increase from 59% pre-pandemic. Eighty-nine percent use telemedicine for follow-up virtual consults, while 75% use telemedicine for case discussions in multidisciplinary meetings. The mean number of monthly patient consults conducted through telemedicine increased to 29.5 (SD: 24.8) from a pre-pandemic mean of 7.7 (SD: 18.7). Eighty-four percent of respondents perceived its main benefit as an infection control measure. The other perceived benefits of telemedicine include convenience (78%), accessibility to cancer care (72%), cost-effectiveness (68%), and time efficiency (44%). A quarter of the respondents believed that telemedicine has the potential to improve cancer outcomes. Ninety-two percent of the respondents expressed that they will use telemedicine occasionally in their practice.
Conclusion. Telemedicine was perceived by Filipino physicians in a tertiary hospital as an acceptable solution for the provision of cancer care during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Tele-oncology should be further investigated to maximize patient and physician satisfaction and improve cancer outcomes. Data from this study can be used to improve oncology practice and service delivery to suitable patients during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.