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Feasibility of telemedicine in the management strategy of patients with lymphoma amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Spain, a prospective study

HumanInsight Feasibility of telemedicine in the management strategy of patients with lymphoma amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Spain, a prospective study

JMIR Form Res. 2023 Jan 3. doi: 10.2196/34128. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: In March 14, 2020, the state of alarm and was declared in Spain due to the spread of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Beyond this date, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country changed the practice of oncologic care.

OBJECTIVE: Since recurrent hospital visits were potential risk factors for contagion, the aims of this prospective observational study was to analyze the consequences of COVID-19 pandemic in the health care of patients with lymphoma.

METHODS: All data were obtained from the electronic medical record (EMR). Variables such as age, sex, matter of the visit, use of patient's portal, changes in management, impact in clinical trials and suffering from COVID-19 contagion were recorded.

RESULTS: 290 patients were attended in the lymphoma clinic accomplishing 437 appointments. The median age was 66 years (range 18-94) and 157 (54.13%) were male. Of them, 214 patients (73.79%) had only 1 visit to the clinic. Only 23 patients (7.93%) didn't have access to patient's portal. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, 78 patients (26.89%) remained in active treatment, 35 patients (12.06%) suffered from delayed in their treatments and 6 patients (2.06%) suffered from treatment discontinuation. During the follow-up, only 8 patients (2.75%) suffered from COVID-19 (7 cases with confirmed PCR test and 1 case with clinical suspicion). Despite the implementation of telemedicine strategies to avoid visit to hospital, 66 patients (22.75%) had in-person visits to the lymphoma clinic. Patients who attended in-person consultation were younger than those who preferred telemedicine consultation (62 vs 66 years) and had less use of patient's portal (7.58% vs 9%), although these differences didn't reach statistical significance. Patients who atttended in-person visits used to have only 1 visit to hospital (43.93% vs 82.58%, P<.0001). Regarding the matter of in-person consultation, more patients were on active treatment in comparison with those using telemedicine resources (56.06% vs 18.30%, P<.0001). Patients with preference for telemedicine strategies had more surveillance visits (65.62% vs 36.36%, P<.0001). With regards of treatment modifications, more treatment delays (12.94% vs 9.09%) and more definite treatment discontinuations (2.67% vs 0%) were seen in patients using telemedicine resources when compared to patients attending in-person visits, although these differences didn't reach statistical significance. Regarding the type of therapy, patients attending in-person visits were more likely to receive an intravenous treatment rather than those on telemedicine (62.16% vs 40.47%, P<.0001).

CONCLUSIONS: Telemedicine such as patient's portal are feasible strategies in the management of patients with lymphoma during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a reduction of in-person visits to hospital and a very low contagion rate.

PMID:36645838 | DOI:10.2196/34128

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