A new position statement by ASCO calls for the continuation of flexibilities in reimbursement that have allowed the expanded use of telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic. The statement, which also calls for further research on telemedicine’s effectiveness and benefits, offers recommendations for federal and state coverage, health equity, patient education, and research in this growing and evolving field.
“The pandemic required an enormous adjustment as the cancer community rapidly implemented telemedicine to ensure the continued delivery of high-quality cancer care for our patients,” said ASCO President Lori J. Pierce, MD, FASTRO, FASCO. “As telemedicine’s role in care delivery continues to evolve, this interim statement is intended to provide guidance on significant issues that have emerged during the public health emergency.”
Lori J. Pierce, MD, FASTRO, FASCO
ASCO’s statement also describes challenges regarding the use of telemedicine in oncology, including data privacy, data security, and medical liability. In addition, since the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services adjusted the reimbursement rates and scope for telemedicine visits, there is worry that the increased availability of telemedicine visits could increase health-care utilization and spending. More research is needed to better understand cost, acceptance, and utility of telemedicine in cancer care.
To offer guidance on how oncologists can implement telemedicine while addressing such concerns, ASCO developed the following recommendations. This guidance reflects the current state of cancer care during the COVID-19 pandemic under the U.S. government’s declaration of a public health emergency.
Guidance on telemedicine and other pandemic-related issues is available in ASCO’s COVID-19 Resource Center, and more information about telemedicine can be found at ASCO’s patient information website, Cancer.Net.