In mid-March, when the COVID-19 outbreak began in Western New York, Roswell Park took immediate action to ramp up our ability to conduct provider-patient consultations remotely, or virtual visits. Instead of the patient coming to campus for a traditional face-to-face appointment, we conducted the session by video chat. In cases where the patient did not have the necessary electronic equipment or service, we were often able to connect by telephone. To date, we have conducted thousands of these virtual visits.
Roswell Park remains open as an essential service; our elderly and immune-compromised patient population, however, have increased and dire risks from contracting COVID-19. Their cancer care cannot be paused for long, and they understandably are fearful. Streamlining and building our capacity for conducting virtual visits allows our providers to deliver timely and essential cancer care and keeps our patients and their caregivers safe by avoiding unnecessary exposures and travel.
Which patients are eligible?
A virtual visit may be considered for both established and new patients. Input from our referring physicians and our professional and clinical judgement is used in determining whether a virtual visit is an option for each patient. Some key points to consider include:
For patients, this convenience reduces their time spent traveling to the hospital and sitting in the waiting room — especially important for patients who live out of the area.
All the necessary technology, devices and platforms were already integrated and in use at Roswell Park. Patients need only a computer, laptop, tablet or smart phone with a camera, and an email address. We employed Roswell Park’s WebEx platform and at the appropriate time patients need only to click on a link in an email or in a text message.
Clinical support teams handle the scheduling for the virtual visits and work with each patient ahead of time to confirm the patient has the proper device, help them to download the WebEx app and find further instructions. If needed, Imaging and Laboratory testing is ordered before or after a virtual visit. Plans for in-person care are also made during the virtual visits.
Our WNY medical community will see many benefits to virtual visits beyond COVID-19 for our mutual patients. Most importantly, the patients have felt connected, supported and had continuity of care.
If you’d like to discuss the option of a virtual visit for one of your patients with any Roswell Park provider, please call 716-845-RPMD (7763). We also encourage you to download the RPMD app on your mobile device, where you can reach out directly to a provider by searching our updated physician directory. More information is available at RoswellPark.org/RPMD
Learn more about virtual visits at Roswell Park.