More than 90% of patients report that telehealth consultations during radiotherapy treatment are high quality and may be even better for understanding information from their healthcare team than in-person visits, researchers reported in the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

Researchers surveyed 1,077 patients who were receiving radiation treatment for their cancer. Of those, 351 had telemedicine visits with their oncologist and 726 had in-person office visits during the study period.

They found that 91% reported receiving high-quality explanations during telehealth compared with 84% of in-person visitors. A total of 45% preferred telehealth visits, 34% liked in-office visits, and 21% had no preference. Most patients said that telemedicine is either similar to or better than in-office visits for confidence in their physician (90%), understanding their treatment (88%), and confidence that their cancer will be treated appropriately (87%). Responses showed that 60% found no difference in the personal connection with their oncologist during telehealth and 30% preferred the connection made during in-person visits. Another 66% said that telehealth visits were more cost effective than in-person visits, which may assist patients with a common barrier to accessing care.

“These findings provide some evidence that there is a role for telemedicine beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and that it can be a particularly useful tool for certain patients—especially those who may have challenges coming onsite for an appointment,” the authors said. “Telemedicine maintained patient confidence in the physician and treatment, but efforts to increase access to audiovisual technologies must be prioritized to improve patient-physician communication.”

Get tips for conducting virtual visits with your patients in ONS Voice’s guide to telehealth.