Expert Perspectives: New Paradigms of Cancer Care and the Evolving Role of Telemedicine

Learn from oncology experts Eleonora Teplinsky, MD, a breast and gynecologic medical oncologist at Valley Health System, Melissa Wilson, MD, PhD, a medical oncologist at St. Luke’s University Health Network, and Souvik Sarkar, MD, PhD, a hepatologist at UC Davis Health, as they explore the evolving role of telemedicine in oncology and discuss its definition, teleoncology in action, and the strategies for a successful teleoncology practice. The “New Paradigms in Cancer Care” expert forum, a webcast intended for healthcare providers, was presented virtually on April 20, 2021 to medical professionals and was not an independent continuing medical education (CME) program.

Topic: The Role of Telemedicine in Oncology

[Starting at 4:18]

Dr. Eleonora Teplinsky provides an overview of telemedicine in oncology, discussing what it is, and what it is not. She discusses the four components of telemedicine according to the World Health Organization, which include: providing clinical support, overcoming geographic barriers, using communications technologies, and improving health outcomes.

In a panel discussion, Drs. Teplinsky, Sarkar and Wilson exchange perspectives on the extent that a physical exam can be performed virtually, telemedicine’s current limitations, and how its limitations can be potentially overcome.

Topic: Telemedicine in Action

[Starting at 29:34]

Dr. Melissa Wilson presents telemedicine’s evidence-base by exploring what doctors have learned so far from various indications in oncology along the patient journey from diagnosis and treatment selection to disease management and follow-up. She examines patient satisfaction, their quality of life, and telemedicine’s limitations.

Following the presentation, Dr. Teplinsky and Dr. Sarkar join Dr. Wilson as they discuss the parts of the patient journey telemedicine is best suited for based on the evidence presented, as well as the strengths and limitations of data on telemedicine being used to monitor for adverse events in patients.

Topic: Strategies for Successful Telemedicine

[Starting at 55:28]

Dr. Souvik Sarkar discusses the strategies for successful telemedicine application in oncology, transitioning from evidence to ‘best’ practices through the patient journey. He explores how patients in rural or underserved areas may benefit from practices like televisits (when one specialist connects with a patient), telementoring (one specialist and one PCP meet with a patient), and teleconsultations (to screen for disease).

The concluding panel discussion features Drs. Teplinsky, Sarkar and Wilson as they consider the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic changed how health care professionals communicate with their patients, colleagues and other providers, as well as how various telemedicine approaches (e.g., video visits, virtual check-ins, or mobile health) might be most challenging or easily adaptive for providers and patients.