Texas Oncology announced today a major expansion of its telemedicine services to allow patients to schedule virtual visits with more than 400 physicians and 150 advanced practice providers throughout the statewide cancer care practice. Through this expanded approach, launched earlier this month, Texas Oncology is conducting more than 500 telemedicine visits per day on average, using technology to continue to provide high quality cancer care to patients from their homes.
The telemedicine expansion is critical to safeguarding cancer patients currently in Texas Oncology’s care. The practice sees more than 55,000 new cancer patients each year. Texas Center for Proton Therapy, Texas Breast Specialists and Texas Urology Specialists, which are part of Texas Oncology, also are participating in the telemedicine initiative.
Telemedicine allows patients to meet with their physician and care teams, when clinically appropriate, without an in-person visit to the clinic. While some patients will continue to need to come to our locations for treatment, lab work, and other essential care, telemedicine is a safe alternative for many new patient consultations, follow-up visits, survivorship consultations, and other important appointments that help keep patient care on track.
“Expanding the telemedicine capability that we launched at Texas Oncology five years ago enables our patients to access their physicians from their mobile phones or home computers – without having to come to one of our locations. Robust adoption of this technology is an essential component of our overall approach to continuing vital, timely care, while protecting the safety of our patients and our staff during the COVID-19 health crisis,” said Debra Patt, M.D., MPH, MBA, executive vice president, public policy and strategic initiatives at Texas Oncology.
Telemedicine services help physicians actively follow patient progress and consult with new patients while reducing the number of people inside practice locations, and thereby reducing risk of exposure to illness. Patients currently in treatment will continue to come to their Texas Oncology locations for therapy that requires observation by clinicians.
Through a video conferencing app that patients can easily download, physicians and care team members see patients, share files, review imaging and laboratory data, and engage with patients and their families. The virtual patient experience is similar to an office visit.
“Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, care for cancer patients cannot be delayed. We are open and seeing patients across Texas. We accelerated the expansion of telemedicine to meet the urgent need to continue treating patients – safely,” said Steven Paulson, M.D., president and chairman of the board for Texas Oncology. “With telemedicine, patients have access to needed care while limiting interactions with others, which helps us protect patients who are in our clinics or at home, as well as our staff. It is just one way we can continue to provide high quality cancer care while supporting social distancing.”
Texas Oncology is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines in every aspect of its response to COVID-19, which includes:
- Rescheduling non-urgent appointments;
- Limiting visitors* and not allowing children to accompany patients;
- Pre-screening patients by phone prior to appointments;
- Screening patients and caregivers for symptoms at the entrances to our locations.
For more information regarding telemedicine, visit TexasOncology.com/Telemedicine.
To find out if your case is appropriate for Texas Oncology’s telemedicine capability, contact your Texas Oncology location for more information.
About Texas Oncology
Texas Oncology is an independent private practice with more than 490 physicians and 210 locations across the state. Meeting the oncology needs of Texans for more than 35 years, the practice includes Texas Center for Proton Therapy, Texas Breast Specialists, Texas Oncology Surgical Specialists, and Texas Center for Interventional Surgery. As a lead participant in US Oncology Research, Texas Oncology played a role in the development of more than 90 FDA-approved therapies, about one-third of all cancer therapies approved to date. For more information, visit www.TexasOncology.com.
*Austin area locations have instituted a no visitor policy.