Effective Telemedicine Delivery During the COVID19 Pandemic
By UF J-School
COVID-19 has greatly affected cancer care. During the onset of the pandemic, clinicians and patients faced uncertainty about the safety of meeting face-to-face and continuing treatment. Protocols were altered and clinicians were thrust into using new technology to communicate with patients.
Telemedicine became standard practice, even though it was rarely used before the pandemic. Secure messaging, online communication between patients and clinicians within the electronic health record, soared almost 50% from pre-COVID-19 to the present.
The researchers conducted a survey of 79 UF Health Cancer Center (UFHCC) patients and in-depth follow-up interviews with 16 UFHCC patients, and analyzed over 1,400 secure message conversations.
Based on this data, two translational materials were rapidly created:
1) A flyer distributed to all UFHCC clinicians, with recommendations on how to communicate more effectively with patients. Recommendations included making eye contact with patients by looking directly at the camera, keeping patients abreast of delays, and engaging in small talk to build rapport.
2) FAQs of the most discussed topics occurring within secure messages were added to patients’ appointment reminders sent via the patient portal (MyChart). FAQs included advice about adjusting appointment days/times, identifying symptoms of COVID-19, and reassurance about safety measures taken in the hospital.