The COVID-19 virus has disrupted all of our lives and routines. Things that we always did and places we always went are no longer available. The pandemic has forced us to all look at things we routinely do and challenged us to do them differently.
Like in business, in medicine sometimes small disruptions can lead to larger innovative changes. In the treatment of malignant mesothelioma, disruptors have led the way. Over the years we have seen doctors challenging the previously held belief that there was no treatment for malignant mesothelioma time and time again. The treatment options and longer quality of life that many mesothelioma patients are now able to be part of was not an option 20 years ago.
Before the pandemic, having a doctor’s visit for the vast majority of people involved going to the office or clinic at an appointed time, waiting, and meeting with the doctor. Patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma had the option of travelling to a Mesothelioma Center of Excellence to consult with experts in the field. Since the pandemic, with social isolation and doctors offices and clinics closed to prevent the spread of the virus, there has been a surge of tele-health visits.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for the Advancement of Telehealth promotes the use of telehealth technology for health care. Their definition of tele-health is “the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. Technologies include videoconferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications.”
In 2018, tele-health was 0.1 percent of all medical claims filed. Since the pandemic those numbers are exploding.
Tele-health has made possible consults and reviewing of scans and meetings with mesothelioma experts. As things are starting to open back up, so are the patients coming back to the mesothelioma centers for in-person consultations.
Like any new technology telehealth has pros and cons. Some people have commented that you have the MD’s full attention without the distractions of an office and other responsibilities. Other people have missed the personal interaction and meeting in person with their doctor.
The coronavirus has brought to the forefront a technology that can benefit a lot of people as they search for the best advanced personalized care for themselves or loved ones with mesothelioma. Tele-health can help malignant mesothelioma patients connect with a mesothelioma center without having to travel. It will take awhile to assess how tele-health will be accessed and have the best results for patients. For patients, their satisfaction with tele-health will need to be studied and evaluated to continue to efficiently access tele-health with the best results.
If you or a family member is diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma reach out, either electronically or in person for the best possible care. Our experts can help connect you with both the medical and legal resources you need to move forward.