Telehealth Study to Measure the Effectiveness & Patient Satisfaction
February 10, 2021
By Gilbert D. A. Padula, MD
Associate Chair, Department of Radiation Oncology
Director of Community Research
University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center
Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Before the pandemic, University Hospitals provided in-person patient care daily to hundreds of patients. But as we all know, the COVID-19 changed the way we work, travel, and live our daily lives in so many ways, including the lives of patients and how they saw their physicians. A study by Goenka et al. noted a decrease in the rate of in-person visits from 100% to 21%. They observed that 60% of telehealth appointments in April were performed with two-way audio-video, and 40% by telephonic. In-person consultation visits were associated with higher billing codes compared to two-way audio-video telehealth visits.
Understanding the detriment the pandemic was having on patient care, University Hospitals quickly responded and offered telehealth appointments instead of in-person care, including telehealth for radiation oncology patients. Maroongroge et al. noted in their International Journal of Radiation Oncology publication that national payment and privacy policies instituted during the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated telemedicine's incorporation into routine radiation oncology practice for many institutions. While this group of researchers acknowledges the benefits of telemedicine, such as improving access, saving time and money, and overall positive responses from both patients and physicians, they also identify several drawbacks that need to be further elucidated, such as the technical and administrative burden posed by new technology and the physical examination restrictions posed by the physically separated interaction.
Gilbert Padula, MD, and his team will assess the effectiveness of the radiation oncology telehealth visits for patients who used the service between January and September 2020. The study's objective is to understand better the current patient perspective of radiation oncology patients within our hospital system and assess physician satisfaction with this medium of care administration. Dr. Padula believes this study will better elucidate the positive impacts on population health due to telehealth services due to improved access for patients. It is expected the learnings from this study will then launch into a clinical trial to learn more about patient-reported outcomes and our emphasis on population health.
To learn more about research studies at University Hospitals, visit the Research & Education Institute.
Goenka, A., Ma, D., Teckie, S., Alfano, C., Bloom, B., Hwang, J., & Potters, L. (2020). Implementation of Telehealth in Radiation Oncology: Rapid Integration During COVID-19 and its Future Role in our Practice. Advances In Radiation Oncology.
Maroongroge, S., MD MBA, Smith, B., MD, Bloom, E. S., MD, Koong, A. C., MD PhD, McAleer, M. F., MD PhD, & Woodhouse, K. D., MD. (2020). Telemedicine for Radiation Oncology in a Post-COVID World. International Journal of Radiation Oncology, 108(2).