Bridging the distance: a prospective tele-oncology study in Northern Norway
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The University Hospital of North Norway (UNN) is a tertiary-level hospital and has the main responsibility of providing specialized cancer health care in the remote area of Northern Norway. Weekly videoconferences (VCs) have been established to enable clinicians at a local hospital and primary cancer health care providers in five different communities to discuss cases with specialist cancer care services at UNN. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the feasibility of these VCs.
This is a prospective registration study. Descriptive data were collected at UNN, and for each patient discussed at the VC, a survey was completed by the local health care provider responsible for the patient.
During an 18-month period, 167 cases were discussed (101 patients). A median of 7 health care providers participated in each VC. According to the local physicians and nurses, the VCs contributed in 96% of cases to give “quite a bit” or “very much” confidence in adequate patient care. They reported that patient care in 85% of cases would be improved “quite a bit” or “very much” due to the VC. The mean number of days waiting for VC were 2.0 days (range, 0–7; SD, 2.0) and was significantly shorter (P < 0.001) than the estimated time waiting if alternative consultations were to be used (mean, 10.2 days (range, 0–30; SD, 5.8)).
VC may be a useful supplemental tool to support primary health care providers at local hospitals and remote communities in their effort to offer efficient and high-quality cancer care.
KeywordsTelemedicine Tele-oncology Videoconferencing Cancer patients Palliative care Remote areas
We thank all the study participants who took the time to complete the questionnaires and provided valuable feedback.
Conflict of interest
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