Advancing Multidisciplinary Cancer Care in the Age of COVID-19
Written by Nestor Villamizar, M.D.
Chest Cancer Surgeon
Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
COVID-19 has altered nearly every aspect of our daily lives.
In cancer treatment, the pandemic has exacerbated some of the disadvantages of the traditional model of care. Patients have typically visited various medical specialists at different locations several days apart, sometimes without adequate communication between their providers. Family members are often unable to accompany their loved one at multiple doctor visits. And there’s the additional stress put upon patients dealing with treatment delays and multiple insurance authorizations. While the pandemic has exacerbated these difficulties, it has also encouraged my colleagues and me at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center to look for ways to improve our dynamic with patients.
Through Sylvester’s virtual multidisciplinary clinic, a team of providers from various medical specialties can now participate in a single patient consultation.
In the age of COVID-19, we’re relying on Telehealth visits to see and speak with patients. With that in mind, Sylvester created a multidisciplinary virtual clinic to serve patients’ needs better while avoiding possible virus transmission in health care facilities. In the safety of their homes and alongside their family support system, our patients can now meet remotely with a unified team of providers from UHealth specialties, including pathology, radiology, medical oncology, radiation oncology, pulmonary medicine, and thoracic surgery. We are fully prepared to answer patients’ questions and approach their care from different perspectives. We aim to communicate clearly with patients and their families about the implications of cancer in the chest in a way that limits fear, confusion, and apprehension. The multidisciplinary virtual clinic brings all of our expertise together to deliver a collective message, enabling patients to avoid traveling to separate visits or schedule multiple Telehealth consultations.
We’re providing not only a safe way to see patients but also a more collaborative approach to creating treatment plans and monitoring patients’ progress and needs.
Health care may look different now, but this should not deter anyone from seeking ongoing treatment and emergency care when needed. Physicians aren’t just dealing with the challenges of the pandemic – we’re adapting to them. And when everyone is back together, health care will be better than ever.
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