COVID-19 has drastically changed the lives of people around the globe. It has affected medical patients a lot, especially the ones with cancer. Hospitals have been overflowing with critical patients of COVID-19 which has resulted in a delay in the diagnosis and treatment of these sufferers. During this time telemedicine can play a huge role in dealing with unresolved complaints of such patients. In June 2020, Cancer Research UK revealed that there was a backlog of no less than 2.4 million people who needed proper medical care for cancer. In the opinion of experts, Telemedicine for Cancer Care in the time of COVID-19 may help tackle these problems to a great extent.
Rise of Telemedicine for Cancer Care in the time of COVID-19
According to AnaMaria Lopez, medical oncologist at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA, USA, the telemedicine patients in May 2020 were equal to the telemedicine patients they attended in a whole year. In different medical centers around the state, the number rose from 40 to around 4000 in a single month. Due to the precarious nature of the illness, the treatment process must remain uninterrupted.
According to research, out of 379 patients, 283 of them went from in-person visits to telemedicine. This makes up 75% of all the patients that took part in this research. It shows how telemedicine can restructure the execution of cancer care. This development has completely conquered the problems faced due to distance and socio-economic difficulties.
How telemedicine helps in cancer care
Nowadays, one of the most important tools is an electronic patient portal which allows doctors and patients to send and receive important health-related messages. This tool cannot be used for life-threatening emergencies but they can be best used for general advice, medicine refills, and showing results to professionals. Cancers survivors can use simple tools such as texting and messaging for general advice. The newly introduced gadgets such as smartwatches can help monitor vital signs. These devices become of great help in keeping track of calorie intake, exercise, and sleep schedule and can also remind them of taking their necessary medications on time.
Telemedicine: How to have an online visit with your doctor
Telemedicine appointments are easier to make than in-person appointments if one has the right tools which are mentioned below:
Devices used for telemedicine
First of all, it is important to decide which device a person would like to use for their telemedicine appointment. One can choose between a laptop, smartphone, or tablet but the most important tool is a stable internet connection.
Setting up an appointment
Before making an appointment it is important to call the health care service provider and ask if they have telemedicine services and if they have it, how should one connect to them. It could be a simple in-built app, a downloadable specific app, or register online on their website.
Choosing a quiet place
To gain the most productivity from the appointment, it is necessary to choose a quiet comfortable place so that it is easier for both the patient and doctor to be able to hear each other without interruptions or distractions.
Organizing Medical History Beforehand
The organization of medical history is certainly useful to save time and hassle during the appointment and just like an in-person visit, it will help the physician to make a much more accurate diagnosis. It is also important to complete the necessary paperwork before e.g. things like medications one is already taking, emergency contacts, insurance, and patient information, etc.
Acquire Vital Signs
Before the appointment, it would help the physical evaluation if the patient has obtained their vital signs through remote patient monitoring.
Writing the questions before the appointment
To avoid distractions it is best to write down questions beforehand so that one may not forget them during their appointment.
Reviewing the treatment plan
The physicians are experts but for one’s self, it is important to review their treatment plan ahead of time so that the patient understands and remembers what comes next. Writing down the treatment plan can prove to be quite helpful.
Before the end of the appointment, it is recommended to schedule a necessary follow-up appointment, if any.
Telemedicine was introduced around 100 years ago but it has evolved greatly with time, today it has become a very important instrument in caring for patients with life-altering diseases such as cancer. Owing to the operations of telemedicine, cancer patients are now able to practice self-care in the vicinity of their homes. It has minimized the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus for patients with fragile health. Not only that, but it has also made a safe environment for medical health professionals. It is safe to say that in the times of COVID-19, telemedicine and cancer care go hand in hand.