COVID-19 and Telehealth: Practical guide for cancer clinicians

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Australian cancer clinicians welcome a new resource to guide them through changes in practice brought about by a new emphasis on telehealth.

Telehealth has reached new heights since the beginning of the COVID-19 global pandemic, with fresh uptake of new technologies and solutions to ensure patient safety.

A new paper, ‘Telehealth in cancer care: during and beyond the COVID‐19 pandemic’ published in Internal Medicine Journal on February 11th, 2021, explores the rapid uptake of telehealth in cancer care. The authors argue many of the changes made in routine clinical practice could be embedded beyond the duration of the pandemic.

The paper explores the mediums of care currently delivered via telehealth including outpatient care, pre‐therapy reviews, pre‐habilitation programmes, preparation for surgery, acute and late effects monitoring, chemotherapy and systemic treatment delivery (‘telechemotherapy’) and the conduct of clinical trials.

This paper is intended as a resource tool/guide on the use of telehealth in cancer care during and beyond the pandemic, Dr Craig Underhill

Dr Craig Underhill, one of the authors of the paper, is a Medical Oncologist from Albury-Wodonga and Co-Host of the Oncology Journal Club podcast. He encouraged further use of telehealth: “The more widespread use of telehealth is one of the positives we can take away from the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper is intended as a resource tool/guide on the use of telehealth in cancer care during and beyond the pandemic”.

The paper provides practical and specific information on a range of considerations including telehealth MBS eligibility, telehealth prerequisites and platforms, the basic principles of delivering care via telehealth, selecting patient suitability for telehealth, clinical examination components of telehealth and teletrials.

The authors note significant barriers to the implementation of telehealth via video consultation, namely infrastructure, IT and organisation support as well as patient literacy. These can be overcome by Government investment, infrastructure and resources to support the longer term deployment of digital health, including connectivity and access for remote areas, elderly and vulnerable patients. An investment that is likely to result in improved outcomes, especially for regional and other disadvantaged populations.

To access the guide click here.


Paper: Burbury, K., et al. Telehealth in cancer care: during and beyond the COVID‐19 pandemic. Internal Medicine Journal, Volume 51, Issue 1, January 2021. https://doi.org/10.1111/imj.15039.

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The ONA Editor curates oncology news, views and reviews from Australia and around the world for our readers. In aggregated content, original sources will be acknowledged in the article footer.

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