Optimizing the Communication with Cancer Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Patient Perspectives

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Patient Prefer Adherence. 2020 Jul 20;14:1205-1212. doi: 10.2147/PPA.S263022. eCollection 2020.


BACKGROUND: During curfew, patients are self-isolated at home and worried. Patient-doctor interactions may be disrupted and therefore need to be replaced by alternative effective communication methods.

PURPOSE: To describe the preferences of cancer patients with respect to communication methods and the use of patient-accessible electronic health records (PAEHRs). To record the impact on cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic and the knowledge and attitude of the patients towards it.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: We created a self-administered electronic survey that was piloted and evaluated for its clinical relevance. Using convenient sampling methods, we surveyed the cancer patients in our Oncology Center.

RESULTS: We received 385 responses between April 15 and April 30, 2020. The preferred method for communication was a phone call with a 92% response rate followed by the electronic patient portal, mobile application, telemedicine and text message in 75%, 76%, 73%, and 72%, respectively. The majority (97%) preferred the use of PAEHRs for appointments, 95% for drug delivery and to view laboratory tests, and 92% in requesting medical reports. In our survey, 22% of patients with cancer reported that their medical cancer care had not been affected by COVID-19. They reported that trusted sources of information during COVID-19 included the Ministry of Health with 98% and doctors with 94%. Sixty-one percent know that they are more susceptible to COVID-19 infection and 91% of respondents supported the notion of digital transformation in the caring of cancer patients.

CONCLUSION: Our study revealed a general acceptance of patients to telecommunication as substitute to in-person interaction with their physicians. Interaction between cancer patients and health care providers should not be disrupted but should be augmented with more effective platforms to improve health care outcomes.

PMID:32764893 | PMC:PMC7381793 | DOI:10.2147/PPA.S263022