Indian Journal of Palliative Care
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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 26  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 31--35

Smartphone-based telemedicine service at palliative care unit during nationwide lockdown: Our initial experience at a tertiary care cancer hospital

Department of Onco-Anaesthesia and Palliative Medicine, Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sushma Bhatnagar
Department of Onco-Anaesthesia and Palliative Medicine, Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi - 110 029
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/IJPC.IJPC_161_20

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Background and Aims: With the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown, and fear from contagion, the advantages of telemedicine are clearly outweighing the setbacks by minimizing the need for individuals to visit health-care facilities. Our study aims to assess how palliative medicine physicians could follow up on cancer patients and barriers they faced, discuss their results, and evaluate their treatment response with the help of telemedicine. Materials and Methods: We conducted a prospective analysis of the smartphone-based telemedicine service at our palliative care (PC) unit from March 25, 2020, to May 13, 2020. We recorded the patient's reason for call, main barriers to a hospital visit, and the assistance given to them by the physician on call. Each caller was asked to measure his/her satisfaction with the service on a 4-point scale. Results: Out of 314 patients, 143 (45.54%) belonged to Delhi and 171 (54.46%) belonged to other states. 157 patients sought help for symptom management; 86 patients needed to restock their opioid medications. Seventy-one patients required information regarding their oncological treatments requiring consultation from other departments. Titration of oral opioids and medication prescription (n = 129), contact details of other PC units at their native state for opioid procurement (n = 55), and attachment to our community-based PC service (n = 22) were main modes of management. Fifty-six patients were very satisfied and 152 patients were satisfied with the service. Conclusion: Telemedicine is the future of health-care delivery systems. In PC, we deal with immunocompromised debilitated cancer patients and telemedicine is immensely helpful for us to provide holistic integrated care to these patients who are unable to visit hospitals regularly.


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