Get Blog Updates

Connect With Us

facebook Twitter linkedin RSS

Write for the ATP Blog

Guest Author

 

Telemedicine and Rare Mesothelioma Cancer

Thanks to the rise of telemedicine, medical professionals are more able than ever to meet with patients, even when those patients are unable to leave home. This revolutionary practice has been especially effective when specialists are needed, including when patients present with less common conditions.

There has been success with telemedicine in the United Kingdom as a way to manage lung cancer treatment. With complicated diseases like cancer, patients need a myriad of doctors to fight alongside them. Cases need to be reviewed by a lung cancer multidisciplinary team (MDT) and a thoracic surgeon, but a problem arises when there is a shortage of thoracic surgeons, as is the case in the UK. The solution is telemedicine.

With telemedicine, in one year, doctors were able to facilitate 28 MDT meetings with 62 patients. The patients were able to stay at a general hospital in the South End while cardiothoracic specialists were consulting on their cases via videoconferencing in London.

Convenience aside, this technology has helped saved lives. The resection rate increased by 30 percent following the introduction of telemedicine meetings. Additionally, patient wait time, between being seen in a clinic to their surgery date, was reduced from 69 days to 54. When lives are on the line and every day counts, the use of telemedicine saved over three working weeks of the thoracic surgeons' time during that year.

Getting patients into surgery sooner, without compromising the accuracy of a diagnosis, is paramount. Time often works against patients, especially when they’re battling with a rare form of cancer, such as Mesothelioma. Caused by inhaling asbestos, it can develop in the lining of the lungs, heart, or abdominal cavity. Access to telemedicine care may help improve what is often a bleak prognosis.

Patients with mesothelioma currently live an average of 12 to 21 months following diagnosis. Using telemedicine, patients can gain access to the limited number of mesothelioma specialists available without having to travel across the country to receive necessary care. Veterans, who make up 30 percent of all American mesothelioma patients, have already experienced the benefits of telemedicine. The Veterans Healthcare Administration triages mesothelioma patients by phone to help expedite their access to care.

The results are hopeful, as patients waited only two weeks, on average, between their phone consultations and a physical evaluation, and the access to specialist care changed treatment plans for 71 percent of those evaluated.

According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2016 there were 1.2 million virtual doctors visits in the United States, a 20 percent increase over the year before. And of those polled, 61 percent of adults are open to using telemedicine services. While those figures point to movement in the right direction, there are still leaps and bounds to be made so telemedicine can be readily available to aid patients with any kind of disease. As technology continues to evolve and mature, more patients will eventually have not only better access to healthcare, but a better chance to survive.

About the Author

Rachel Lynch's picture

Rachel Lynch is the Press and Media coordinator for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance (MCA). The organizations work is focused on an awareness and advocacy for mesothelioma cancer and aims for a complete ban of asbestos in the United States. Her focus is on raising awareness of asbestos exposure and ensuring all at-risk communities are aware of the potential health impacts. For more information see their website, www.mesothelioma.com.


All site content © 1996 - 2018 Arizona Telemedine Program. The University of Arizona is an EEO/AA - M/W/D/V