Tatjana Kolevska, MD, says pandemic pivot to virtual cancer care benefits patients

At mHealth Intelligence’s recent Telehealth22 Virtual Summit, Tatjana Kolevska, MD, medical director of Kaiser Permanente’s National Cancer Excellence Program, shared how attitudes toward virtual cancer care shifted dramatically in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Headshot of Tatjana Kolevska, MD
Tatjana Kolevska, MD

Dr. Kolevska, who is also chair of Oncology and Hematology for The Permanente Medical Group, said that prior to the pandemic, the medical group provided 15% of cancer care virtually and expected that to grow to 25% to 30%. “And then came March 2020. We were told to decrease foot traffic in our centers as much as possible. So, in one week we went from providing 15% to 98% of our cancer care virtually,” she said during the panel, “How Telehealth’s Role in Chronic Care Management Will Grow in 2022 and Beyond.”

Dr. Kolevska said subsequent Kaiser Permanente studies demonstrated that the shift to online cancer care was popular with cancer patients and their families.

“Even patients who were discussing challenging diagnoses with doctors said they were very happy that they could do a video consultation where all their family members from around the world could be together on the call,” she said.

Kaiser Permanente is now evolving its digitally enhanced cancer care to include treatment pathways and virtual centers of excellence, she said.

“If I am treating a cancer patient, I can click on the pathway for a specific cancer and access the preferred treatment regimen,” Dr. Kolevska said, and whether a patient lives “in a small village in Hawaii or in Georgia, they can all have access to all the experts.”

Note: View the entire panel on xtelligent Healthcare Media’s Telehealth22 Virtual Summit (registration required).