The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on the innovative degree to which e-Health can empower health systems.
The year 2020 was a turning point in the use of remote work methods in most Radiotherapy services, mainly due to the pandemic and the challenges arising from it in terms of access to specialized professionals, which in many cases became difficult not only because of the geographic location or sudden absences, but also due to the variation in the number of patients to be planned.
When everything was locked most of the clinic moved every function that could be done remotely, out of the clinic. Some sites went 100% remote, while others experimented with hybrid on-site/remote models. In the radiation therapy process, the main areas of change were volume delineation, treatment planning, approval, and verification.
This fact resulted in a large-scale “experiment” in remote dosimetry. And although most planning departments are based on a dynamic interaction between dosimetrists, physicists and physicians, being skeptical about this paradigm shift, most ended up seeing the potential that this method would bring.
Throughout the cancer care community, one point on which everyone agrees is that time is critical. A difference of several weeks, or even days, can have a profound impact on the effectiveness of the treatment, on the well-being of patients and their families and on the costs and complexity of care. Placing unnecessary burdens on hospitals and healthcare systems.
With this framework it was possible to find solutions to respond to this need, and avoid treatment delays:
As for the result of the remote approach, during the pandemic, while change could be difficult, remote planning has been a hit with the ease of creating high-quality plans. And most people ended up surrendering to the usefulness, ease and speed with which the daily work was carried out, preventing the start of treatment from being postponed due to lack of resources on site.
The benefits of remote planning reside mainly in reducing time-to-treatment, and to provide support in variable workload situations associated with staff leave (holidays or absence coverage) or peaks in activity. Also supports continuous training of on-site staff in new techniques without limiting the planning capacity, making it possible to jump-start new treatment techniques.
And considering that 17% costs of a Radiotherapy Center are dosimetry planning costs, for health providers the use of remote planning approach could also lead to reduction of operating costs through optimization of the resources and reduction in costs of training and updating skills of the technical staff.
At a global level, remote planning will contribute to the improvement and speed of the health care of our patients, providing high quality and complex treatments, using the most advanced techniques and the best professionals, giving hospitals more capacity to treat patients faster.
If you are at a time when you have few resources, many patients, or a new technique to implement, come and discover the services that Mercurius has to offer, and how they can help you in your daily routine.
Because remote work is definitely here to stay!
Ana Raquel Coutinho
ePlanning Service Delivery Manager