Four academic institutions will create centers of excellence dedicated to telehealth in cancer care to help healthcare providers increase its use in oncology practice, thanks to $23 million in National Cancer Institute (NCI) funding. The awards are part of NCI’s Telehealth Research Centers of Excellence initiative, which is supported by President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot initiative.

“These centers will address important gaps in telehealth and cancer-related care delivery,” Robin C. Vanderpool, DrPH, chief of the Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch in the NCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, said. “We need to establish an evidence base for using this technology to deliver health care in oncology and make it part of routine care. In addition, these centers will explore opportunities for scalability and dissemination of their cancer-related telehealth interventions beyond their own health systems.”

The four funded centers are:

  • Telehealth Research and Innovation for Veterans With Cancer Telehealth Research Center in New York City, NY.
  • Scalable Telehealth Cancer Care Center in Evanston, IL.
  • University of Pennsylvania Telehealth Research Center of Excellence in Pennsylvania, PA.
  • Making Telehealth Delivery of Cancer Care at Home Effective and Safe Telehealth Research Center in New York City, NY.

Despite telehealth’s accessibility and popularity, little is understood about using and sustaining it for cancer-related health care. The research conducted at the centers will focus on “the role of telehealth in fields from prevention to screening and diagnosis to treatment and survivorship.” Researchers will also study telehealth-related disparities in vulnerable communities, including racial and ethnic groups, rural residents, older adults, low-income or uninsured individuals, people who are socially isolated, and people with limited digital literacy.

Patients can face a variety of barriers when seeking health care. When oncology nurses advocate for research and policies that center on breaking down those barriers, they make a real difference in access to cancer care.