Using Telehealth to Increase Access to Survivorship Care
Rachel Conklin, MMS, PA-C, and her team at the Department of Radiation Oncology at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center are exploring using telehealth to increase access to their radiation oncology survivorship program for patients who receive care at the Gateway-Vanderbilt Cancer Treatment Center, which is in a rural area approximately 50 miles from the main campus. Currently, few of the patients who receive radiation therapy at the Gateway-Vanderbilt Cancer Treatment Center receive survivorship care because they decline to travel to Nashville where the survivorship program is located. Using telehealth to offer the services of the Vanderbilt Radiation Oncology Survivorship Program at the community facility is helping to alleviate the burden of commuting to Nashville to a new clinic and to provide the care in a more familiar setting, closer to home.
In this study, Ms. Conklin and her team are:
- Determining the feasibility of using telehealth to deliver a survivorship care plan to patients who receive radiation therapy at a remote facility by measuring the number of eligible patients who enroll in the program and complete the telehealth visit and questionnaires.
- Evaluating patients’ satisfaction with the telehealth survivorship care intervention and determine their adherence to the recommendations in the plan provided.
- Exploring the impact of the telehealth survivorship care intervention on patients’ quality of life.
This study is an important first step in understanding whether telehealth is an effective method to provide follow-up care for the growing number of cancer survivors who have been treated with radiation therapy in the U.S. If the results are promising, the team will pursue larger trials of efficacy to assess the best methods of implementation across their entire institution and potentially multiple institutions. Additional members of the team include co-principal investigators Eric Shinohara, MD, MS; Debra Friedman, MD; and Lisa Kachnic, MD, FASTRO and biostatistician Tatsuki Koyama, PhD.