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July 16, 2020

Telemedicine for Cancer Care in the Time of COVID-19

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • 2Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • 3Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • 4Associates in Radiation Medicine, Adventist HealthCare Radiation Oncology Center, Rockville, Maryland
JAMA Oncol. Published online July 16, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.2684

On March 30, 2020, the US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released an interim final rule that capped off a dizzying month of temporarily loosening regulations to give health care professionals maximum flexibility in responding to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.1 A primary goal of this regulatory flexibility, enabled by the President’s declaration of a national emergency and the declaration of the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of a public health emergency, is the promotion of virtual medicine by expanding coverage for telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries. Telehealth may facilitate US citizens’ access to essential health benefits while respecting physical distancing, an essential disease spread mitigation strategy for COVID-19.2 With a vulnerable patient population, these changes have already had a widespread effect on the delivery of oncology services during the pandemic and may yet have unforeseen effects.3 We herein review the changes and consider their effects on quality of care.

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