Oncology-related care encompassed less than 1 percent of all telehealth visits between 2020 and 2022, according to recent research.
Conducted by market research firm Trilliant Health, the study aimed to assess oncology-related telehealth use and patient demographics. Researchers examined three patient populations between the first quarter of 2020 and the second quarter of 2022, comparing patient trends for telehealth overall to those for oncology-related telehealth. The patient populations studied were telehealth patients, oncology patients, and oncology-related telehealth patients.
The researchers found less than 1 percent of all telehealth visits between Q1 2020 and Q2 2022 were for oncology-related care. Of these oncology-related telehealth visits, 73 percent were evaluation and management (E&M) for ongoing cancer care.
Regarding patient demographics, men and women comparably accounted for oncology-related telehealth use, even though women tend to use telehealth more overall.
Women participated in 62.2 percent of all telehealth visits during the study period, while men participated in 37.8 percent. But women accounted for 52.5 percent of oncology-related telehealth visits compared to 47.5 percent attributable to men.
Telehealth use overall also varied across age groups, but oncology-related telehealth was concentrated within the 65-plus age group.
The 65-plus population accounted for just 19.3 percent of overall telehealth volume, but they accounted for 61.1 percent of oncology-related telehealth visits. Meanwhile, the 18-44 age group is responsible for 40.7 percent of telehealth visits overall but only 7.4 percent of oncology-related telehealth visits.
This study adds to the growing body of research regarding telehealth use in the cancer care arena.
Last month, a study published in JAMA Network Open showed that expanding telehealth oncology services may have helped mitigate challenges related to travel, including time and money, among nonelderly cancer patients.
For the study, researchers conducted an economic evaluation of cost savings related to completed telehealth visits from April 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021. They gathered data from a single National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center.
They found that telehealth helped reduce time and travel costs for cancer patients between 18 and 65 years, with cost savings ranging between $147.4 and $186.1.
Further, a study published earlier this month revealed that the implementation of telehealth within a cancer center resulted in carbon emissions savings. The study, also published in JAMA Network Open, included data for 23,228 patients participating in 49,329 telehealth visits between April 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021.
The researchers found that 424,471 kg of carbon dioxide emissions were saved due to telehealth among patients who lived within an hour of the cancer center. Among the group with a commute longer than an hour, 2.7 million kg of carbon dioxide emissions were saved because of telehealth.
Researchers concluded that telehealth use correlated with carbon emissions savings, which indicates that it could help reduce the healthcare-related carbon footprint.