Patient and Physician Attitudes Toward Telemedicine in Cancer Clinics Following the COVID-19 Pandemic

Chase J Wehrle, Sang W Lee, Aditya K Devarakonda, Tania K Arora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: COVID-19 has infected more than 94 million people worldwide and caused more than 2 million deaths. Patients with cancer are at significantly increased risk compared with the general population. Telemedicine represents a common strategy to prevent viral spread. We sought to evaluate patient with cancer and physician perceptions of telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic.

METHODS: A 16-question survey was e-mailed to 1,843 active e-mails of patients presenting to one of the six cancer clinics at a comprehensive cancer care center from January 1, 2020, to June 1, 2020. A six-question survey was e-mailed to attending physicians of those clinics. Specialties included Medical Oncology, Hematology-Oncology, Surgical Oncology, Urological Oncology, and Gynecologic Oncology.

RESULTS: Three hundred seventy-four patients (20.3%) and 14 physicians (66.7%) responded. Most (68.2%) currently prefer in-person visits, and 80.4% prefer in-person visits following pandemic resolution. More than half (52.2%) of patients preferring virtual visits do so because of convenience. Most (63.1%) patients with cancer are comfortable with a complete physical examination. Surgical patients are more likely to prefer a complete examination (P = .0476). Physicians prefer in-person visits (64.2%) and believe that virtual visits maybe or probably do not provide comparable care (64.2%). 71.4% believe that virtual visits help prevent the spread of infectious disease.

CONCLUSION: Given preferences for in-person visits, cancer care teams should be prepared to continue providing in-person visits for many of their patients. The discrepancy between patient and provider concern for spread of infectious disease represents an area where patients may benefit from increased education. Providers should feel comfortable performing physical examinations at their own discretion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)394-400
Number of pages7
JournalJCO clinical cancer informatics
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Aged
  • Attitude
  • COVID-19/epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Medical Oncology/methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms/diagnosis
  • Pandemics
  • Patients/psychology
  • Physicians/psychology
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'/statistics & numerical data
  • SARS-CoV-2/physiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telemedicine/methods


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