Cancer patients who use telemedicine report better experiences than cancer patients treated in person, according to study results published in the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
After the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the use of telemedicine at a Florida cancer center, cancer patients consistently reported better experiences with telemedicine than with in-person care, researchers found.
In this retrospective study, researchers evaluated patients with solid tumors or hematologic malignancies who were treated at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa.
The researchers analyzed survey response data for 33,318 patients with in-person visits and 5950 patients with telemedicine visits from April 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021.
Two key outcomes the researchers assessed were patients’ access to care and provider concern related to patients’ questions or worries.
Patients were more likely to report better access to care if they used telemedicine rather than in-person visits — 75.8% and 62.5%, respectively (P <.001). Patients were also more likely to report a better experience with regard to provider concern if they used telemedicine rather than in-person visits — 90.7% and 84.2%, respectively (P <.001).
The researchers also looked at patients’ experience-of-care scores across different time intervals: April-June 2020, July-October 2020, November 2020-February 2021, and March-June 2021.
In terms of access, telemedicine outperformed in-person visits across all 4 time periods (P <.001). Telemedicine visits also scored higher for provider concern across all 4 time periods (P <.001).
The researchers noted additional benefits of telemedicine appointments, including timeliness; cost savings related to travel, parking, and lost income; and the ability to engage a caregiver in the appointment when in-person involvement would not be possible.
“In this study, a large oncology dataset showed that telemedicine resulted in better patient experience of care in terms of access and care provider concern compared with in-person visits,” the researchers concluded. “Patient experience of care with telemedicine visits did not change over time, suggesting that implementing telemedicine was effective.”
The researchers added that “long-term data are necessary to determine whether quality of care and oncologic outcomes are equivalent to in-person visits.”
Disclosures: Some study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of disclosures.
Patel KB, Tabriz AA, Turner K, et al. Telemedicine adoption in an NCI-designated cancer center during the COVID-19 pandemic: A report on patient experience of care. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. Published online May 8, 2023. doi:10.6004/jnccn.2023.7008