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COVID-19 Has Shifted Much of Ovarian Cancer Care to Telemedicine

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September 8, 2020

Virtual Ovarian Cancer Care Has Pros and Cons

  • COVID-19 has moved some ovarian cancer care to telemedicine
  • Virtual visits can’t offer the face-to-face interaction of in-person visits
  • Yet telemedicine does offer advantages such as greater efficiency, and the ability to see patients in their own homes
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COVID-19 has shifted much of oncology practice from the medical office to the computer screen. Fear of infection in an already vulnerable population has led to the rapid expansion of remote care delivery.

When ovarian cancer visits are done remotely, do patients lose out?

“You can’t hold someone’s hand, you can’t touch someone on the shoulder,” gynecologic oncologist Dr. Douglas A. Levine of NYU Langone Health explains during a SurvivorNet Connect virtual conference. “There is something missing when you can’t have that personal, three-dimensional, face-to-face interaction.”

Although video visits can be useful for discussing scans and other quick follow-ups, they fall short when it comes to performing more in-depth exams, says Dr. Oliver Dorigo, gynecologic oncologist at Stanford University Medical Center. “We do need clues from patients that you can only get from an in-person visit in a clinic.”

Telemedicine does have several advantages, however, which oncologists are discovering as they become more familiar with the technology. Seeing patients in their home “helps me better understand who they are, and what their true performance status is,” adds Dr. Emese Zsiros of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Virtual visits are also a win when it comes to efficiency. You can now see patients during your off-hours, or while traveling. Remote visits can’t be double-booked, giving you the luxury of more time with you patients. “I feel that I’m really able to slow down and make sure all questions are answered,” says Dr. Bobbie J. Rimel, an OB/GYN and oncologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.