Exploring Oncologists Telehealth Experiences and Perspectives to Optimize Virtual Care for AYA Cancer Patients and Survivors: Preliminary Key Findings

Authors: Costa, C. MPH; Allicock, M. PhD; Roth, M. MD; Shay, L.A. PhD

Category: Behavioral Science & Health Communication
Conference Year: 2023

Abstract Body:
Study Purpose: Healthcare systems pivoted to virtual care during the COVID-19 pandemic, but little is known about oncologist experiences. This study explores oncologists' experiences with telehealth, including how to optimize effective virtual care delivery for AYA cancer survivors. Methods: Drawing on a convenience sample of 5 oncology providers who work with diverse cancer populations across the US, we invited them to participate in semi- structured interviews. Using a qualitative approach, we completed four interviews from June-August, 2022 via WebEx. One independent reviewer analyzed all transcripts using a deductive coding approach and identified initial themes. The study team reviewed transcript summaries and analyzed initial findings to inform the second phase of the study. Results: Of the four participants, 3 (75%) were men and all (100%) were white. Two participants were pediatric oncologists, one a medical oncologist, and one a physician assistant. Years in practice ranged from six to 16. Prior to COVID-19, providers used telehealth very little, but most reported continued use of virtual care for AYAs. Common positive telehealth experiences included improved patient access to care, opportunity to include family members at visits, and the ability to obtain insight into AYAs home environments. Prominent telehealth challenges were patient difficulties in accessing the virtual platform, coordinating in-person visits and telehealth visits into clinic workflow, and lack of technical infrastructure to support telehealth use in practice. Most providers perceived survivorship care visits to be well-suited for telehealth but noted limitations in specific visit types such as those that require physical assessments. All providers believed telehealth training would be beneficial for optimizing virtual care for AYAs. Conclusions: Understanding oncology providers' experiences with telehealth and their perspectives on how to optimize virtual care delivery for AYA cancer survivors is essential for the delivery of high-quality and patient-centered virtual care for AYAs. Findings will help inform guideline development and a provider educational intervention.

Keywords: Telehealth, Adolescent and Young Adult, Cancer Survivorship