ENCORE Study to Evaluate Telehealth Intervention to Improve Rural Cancer Care

Researchers associated with the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC), an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, are initiating a study of a protocol designed to evaluate the effectiveness of a multi-level telehealth-based intervention to improve rural cancer care delivery.

The ENCORE study will include providers and patients across several clinics in two large healthcare systems serving rural communities around VICC. The study will use a telehealth-based molecular tumor board to review sequencing results, discuss predictive and prognostic markers, and formulate treatment plans between expert oncologists and rural providers.

Simultaneously, the rural patients will be randomly assigned to receive an evidence-based 6-week self-management supportive care program – Cancer Thriving and Surviving – versus an education attention control.

The primary outcome of the study will be uptake of the molecular tumor board recommendation and patient treatment adherence.

VICC is the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in Tennessee serving adult and pediatric cancer patients. The location of VICC “presents a tremendous opportunity to develop strategies to address regional disparities in rural cancer care”.

“Several studies have documented elevated cancer incidence and/or mortality in rural compared to urban communities, particularly pronounced in certain regions of the United States (US), including the South,” the study researchers explained. “Telehealth use in rural communities allows extension of care to wide geographic regions without patient or provider travel.”

According to the researchers, participation in this study will test the clinical effectiveness of these telehealth strategies for dissemination of information across diverse community within and beyond the area of VICC.