By Nancy Gay
Now, more patients can receive top-notch, Moffitt-quality care without leaving the comfort of their homes. Moffitt Cancer Center’s telemedicine now includes virtual visits with surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and advanced practitioners.
That means eligible, established patients can interact with a member of their care team through face-to-face video appointments using Moffitt’s Virtual Visit app online or via a mobile device. Virtual visits are available for select follow-up and post-operative visits.
Providers have the ability to schedule virtual visits after surgery or for surveillance follow-up appointments with patients whom they have an established relationship.
Dr. Sachin Apte, Moffitt’s associate chief medical officer, began offering virtual visits to select patients a year and a half ago. “I like the convenience for the patient,” he says. “Many of our Moffitt patients either travel from a distance or travel itself can be challenging due to their physical condition, job, child care, etc. Cancer treatment can be very stressful and disruptive to the lives of our patients and families. For some, transportation itself can be very disruptive. Anything we can do to help alleviate those issues, even to a small degree, is a win.”
Telemedicine also allows for more flexibility in scheduling since the physician can schedule a virtual visit on a nonclinical day. That means patients can make appointments on a day that fits best with their schedule.
However, Apte cautions that the virtual visits aren’t for everyone. He says there are times when it is necessary to have a physical exam or an important conversation in person. Also, patients need to have access to a smartphone or a device with a camera, and some patients may not have the technology available.
For his patients that use the virtual visit, Apte says the response has been overwhelmingly positive. He says his patients find the technology easy to navigate and they appreciate the convenience and quality of the visits.
Dr. Diane Portman, chair of Moffitt’s Department of Supportive Care Medicine, also sees the benefits to patients and the care team. “We are excited about the effectiveness of virtual visits to deliver physical and emotional supportive care to patients living with cancer. To manage symptoms and productively discuss what matters to patients in this way has also significantly encouraged and inspired our staff. We are proud to have reported our positive experience in a recent article in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, ‘Completing the Bucket List: Leveraging Telemedicine in Oncologic Palliative Care to Support Legacy-Making and Dignity.’ ”
Patients are charged a flat fee for each virtual visit rather than a typical co-pay. Visit moffitt.org/VirtualVisit for more information.