Telehealth enables virtual cancer board meetings

In yet another example of telehealth taking on a new frontier, the University of North Carolina's Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center is using telehealth to widen the reach of its multidisciplinary oncology tumor boards.

The weekly board meetings, during which multiple clinicians discuss diagnoses, treatment plans and other patient-specific issues, now take place via video-conferencing, and include imaging, labs, test results and more, telemedicine director Michael Young tells Cardiovascular Business.

Most tumor boards include physicians, such as radiologists or oncologists, pathologists, nurses, pharmacists and other clinicians.

"They're all in one big room to discuss your cancer case," Young says. "There's content that's being presented, [whether it's] radiology or pathology images [on a screen] or discussion of patient history that might come out of the EMR. And the group will discuss that patient's care and what to do."

The idea is to allow board members to participate when they aren't on-site, and to widen the board's reach, allowing it to consult with any oncologists in the state who need help. The technology is web-based, and allows physicians to connect with basically an Internet connection, according to Cardiovascular Business.

So far the board has conducted 400 hours of virtual meetings, Young reports.

We'll be interested to see if UNC adds tablets to its virtual board program, as its core telehealth capability is powered by Cisco's TelePresence system, and Cisco just unveiled its business- and healthcare-focused tablet devices.

To learn more:
- read the Cardiovascular Business article
- get more detail from the University of NC.
- check out this blog on telepresence technology

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