Background Surgical and nonsurgical specialists are highly centralized, making access to high-quality care difficult for many Americans. We explored the feasibility, benefits, preliminary outcomes, and patient satisfaction with a new type of health visit, in which a surgical oncologist used video telecommunication to manage and treat complex cancer diseases, including patients with severe comorbidities. Materials and methods Patients visited local VA medical centers throughout Florida to engage in video telecommunication visits with a centralized surgical oncologist in Miami, who directed their oncology treatment. The average length of stay and rate of unplanned readmission were calculated within each organ. The total mileage saved was calculated by subtracting the distance between the patient's home address and the local VA from the distance between the patient's home address and the Miami VA. Travel costs were determined by the VA's reimbursement of $0.415/mile for health-related travel and reimbursement of $150.00 for an overnight hotel stay. A Likert scale with both positively and negatively keyed questions was used to assess patient satisfaction. Results In 24 mo, seven unplanned readmissions occurred among 195 operations. Patients experienced an 80.7% reduction in travel distance and saved a total of 213,007.58 miles by visiting their local VA instead of the Miami VA. Survey results indicate that 86% of patients believed that the telemedicine program made medical care more accessible. Conclusions The Specialist-Directed Telemedicine Model can save patients substantial time and money by not traveling to centralized areas, while delivering greater continuity of care and patient satisfaction.
- Access to care
- Complex cancer
- Specialist-directed telemedicine
ASJC Scopus subject areas