Short Communication

Providing geriatric oncology care using telemedicine for older patients with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mexico

3 Apr 2023
Celia G Hernández-Favela, Maria Renee Jimenez-Sotomayor, Andrea Morales-Alfaro, Andrea de la O-Murillo, Enrique Soto-Perez-De-Celis

The objective of this study was to describe our experience using readily available telemedicine tools to deliver specialist multidisciplinary care to older adults with cancer at a Mexican medical centre during the COVID-19 pandemic. Between March 2020 and March 2021, patients aged ≥65 years with colorectal or gastric cancer treated at a geriatric oncology clinic in Mexico City were included. Patients were reached via telemedicine utilising readily available apps such as WhatsApp or Zoom. We performed interventions such as geriatric assessments, treatment toxicity assessments, physical examinations and treatment prescription. The number of visits per patient, type of device used, preferred software/app, consultation barriers and the ability of the team to deliver complex interventions were analysed and reported. A total of 44 patients received at least one telehealth visit, with a total of 167 consultations. Only 20% of patients had webcam-equipped computers, and 50% of visits were performed using a caregiver’s device. Seventy-five percent of visits took place using WhatsApp, and 23% using Zoom. The average visit lasted 23 minutes, with only 2% not completed due to technical issues. A geriatric assessment was successfully conducted in 81% of telemedicine visits, and chemotherapy was prescribed remotely in 32%. The use of telemedicine is possible in older adults with cancer living in developing countries and with little previous exposure to digital technology using readily available platforms such as WhatsApp. Healthcare centres in developing countries should make efforts to enhance the use of telemedicine, particularly for vulnerable populations such as older adults with cancer.

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