COVID-19 Scientific Communications and Comments
Experience of Telemedicine Visits in Radiation Oncology During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A US National Survey and Lessons Learned for Incorporating Telemedicine Post-COVID-19We sought to survey the attitudes and perceptions of US radiation oncologists toward the adoption of telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic and offer suggestions for its integration in the postpandemic era.
COVID-19 Booster Vaccine Equity for Patients With CancerCOVID-19 has caused greater than 300 million documented infections worldwide including over 5 million confirmed deaths. Patients with cancer are particularly vulnerable due to a combination of disease and therapy-related effects. Available vaccines were highly effective against the original viral strains in clinical trials. However, initial vaccination efforts in this vulnerable population were impacted by federal policy that created substantial vaccine scarcity and allocation difficulties by recommending prioritization of unmanageably large patient populations including the entire elderly population and patients over the age of 16 with broadly defined, high-risk medical conditions (including cancer).
Telemedicine Use and Satisfaction Among Radiation Oncologists During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Evaluation of Current Trends and Future OpportunitiesDuring the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine became an attractive alternative to in-person appointments. The role of telemedicine in patients who undergo frequent on-site treatment, such as radiation therapy, is unclear. The purpose of this study was to examine telemedicine use, physician satisfaction, and barriers to continued use in radiation oncology.
Effectively Conducting Oncology Clinical Trials During the COVID-19 PandemicClinical trial enrollment has declined globally as a result of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This underscores the importance of structured methods to continue critical medical research safely and efficiently.
Impact of the Coronavirus Disease of 2019 Pandemic on Radiation Oncology Clinical Decision Making in a High-Prevalence EnvironmentThis study aimed to define how the coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic affected the role, timing, and delivery of radiation therapy (RT) in a high-prevalence region at the height of the initial U.S. outbreak.
Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Radiation Oncology Departments in BrazilThe COVID-19 pandemic brought several challenges to cancer practice, especially in ensuring continuity of treatment during this period while minimizing the risks of transmission to a vulnerable population. For radiation oncology departments in Brazil, this contingency has become even more complex owing to the significant effect observed in different sectors of society and the large number of COVID-19 cases and deaths. This study estimated the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on Brazilian radiation oncology departments and the coping measures used in the country.
Networking and Applying to Radiation Oncology During A Pandemic: Cross-Sectional Survey of Medical Student ConcernsWe assessed the effectiveness of a virtual networking session tailored for third- and fourth-year medical students interested in radiation oncology, and report students’ concerns about applying to radiation oncology during the pandemic.
A National Survey of Radiation Oncology Experiences Completing Tele-Consultations During the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) PandemicThe emergence of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) global pandemic has led to a significant shift in the delivery of health care, including an explosive growth of telemedicine services. This reverberated in the field of radiation oncology, with a recent American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) nationwide survey reporting 89% of surveyed clinics began to offer telemedicine programs to patients because of the pandemic. However, this survey did not study the perceptions and experiences of those clinicians delivering telemedicine services.
The COVID-19 & Cancer Consortium (CCC19) and Opportunities for Radiation OncologyTo date, there are more than 38,000,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) worldwide, with over 1,000,000 deaths.1 In the United States, there have been over 14,100,000 confirmed cases, with over 276,000 deaths.1 This disease is highly infectious, especially because asymptomatic and symptomatic individuals can transmit the virus.2,3 During the pandemic, extensive public health measures have been taken to limit exposure of both staff and patients to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2, including physical distancing and quarantine.
The Fear Returns: Messaging in the Age of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)I shall set some of them down here, in the wistful—nay, the futile—hope that it may do something to restore the art of articulation, the dignity of diction, and thus improve the process of communication, for precision of communication is important, more important than ever, in our era of hair-trigger balances, when a false, or misunderstood, word may create as much disaster as a sudden thoughtless act.1–James Thurber
Radiation Therapy Delivery Challenges in Older Patients During Coronavirus Disease 2019 PandemicThe management of older patients in radiation therapy (RT) departments has been challenging in the context of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. We report our experience of RT adapted schedules or strategy changes in older patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Operation of Canada’s Only Virtually Operated Radiation Oncology Service During the COVID-19 PandemicOur institution operates a remote radiation oncology service in Northern Ontario, Canada. Since the start of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, this center has operated without radiation oncologists on site owing to safety precautions, and this study seeks to understand the effect of this shift.
Evaluating an Ultraviolet C System for Use During SARS-CoV2 Pandemic and Personal Protective Equipment ShortageThe supply of N95 masks and filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) has been limited nationally owing to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Ultraviolet C (UVC) light has been suggested as a potential option for decontamination of FFRs by the Centers for Disease Control. There has been a lack of publications characterizing UVC dose distribution across FFRs.
Residency Match Trends, Racial Disparity, and Matching Amid a PandemicRadiation oncology has been facing an evolving crisis in recruitment for several years, and the events of 2020 to 2021 will certainly add to that crisis with the urgency of addressing systemic racial injustice amid a global pandemic. The purpose of this study is to examine applicant data to gain insight on residency match trends and evaluate these findings within the backdrop of a novel match year.
The Game Continues: Seeking Clarity in the Radiation Oncology MatchThough the previous Gaming the Match agreement offered guidance to programs on how best to approach the Match process, guidance for applicants remains inconsistent. Here we review and propose guidelines by which the spirit of the Match may better be achieved for both program directors and applicants alike.
The Case for Brachytherapy: Why It Deserves a RenaissanceThe recent global events related to the coronavirus disease of 2019 pandemic have significantly changed the medical landscape and led to a shift in oncologic treatment perspectives. There is a renewed focus on preserving treatment outcomes while maintaining medical accessibility and decreasing medical resource utilization. Brachytherapy, which is a vital part of the treatment course of many cancers (particularly prostate and gynecologic cancers), has the ability to deliver hypofractionated radiation and thus shorten treatment time.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Brachytherapy During the Pandemic: A Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health Multisite ExperienceThis study aimed to evaluate whether the coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic resulted in treatment delays in patients scheduled for or undergoing brachytherapy.
A Paradigm Shift in Radiation Oncology TrainingThe coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has been intertwined with the movement for racial justice in the United States and has highlighted and risks aggravating educational and workforce disparities within radiation oncology. We discuss wide-ranging changes within radiation oncology training that are essential to developing and maintaining diversity, including utilization of competency-based educational models that allow for streamlining of training and examinations; responsiveness to the needs of residents and medical students of different gender, racial/ethnic, and socioeconomic groups; and technological integration to increase educational efficiency and decrease barriers.
The Novel Use of a Commercially Available Video-Conference Platform to Facilitate Multidisciplinary Target Volume Review and Delineation for Skull-Base Radiation Therapy During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 PandemicMultidisciplinary involvement in radiation therapy (RT) treatment planning is currently underused. A radiation oncologist sought input for generating target contours from a neuro-radiologist (NR) and otolaryngologist (OL) for 3 patients requiring skull-base RT during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. A Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliant virtual meeting between the radiation oncologist, NR, and OL was arranged. Involvement of the OL and NR led to significant changes in the clinical target volume for all patients.
Virtual On-Treatment Visits: Implementation, Patient Perspectives, Barriers, Limitations, Benefits, and OpportunitiesThis study aimed to report our initial experience with weekly tele-video “virtual” on-treatment visits (vOTVs), describe the logistics of implementation, report the results of patient and physician surveys, and discuss the barriers, limitations, and benefits of vOTVs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Resident Considerations for Virtual Interviews in Radiation Oncology: Perspectives From the Sunshine StateResidency candidate selection in radiation oncology has traditionally consisted of formal in-person interviews, which occur in groups, each over 1 to 2 days. This format was largely adopted due to the efficiency it provided programs in interviewing the most applicants in a given day and reducing faculty time away from clinical responsibilities. However, because of the ongoing threat of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus–2, or coronavirus disease 2019, and the associated social distancing measures, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, and the National Resident Matching Program have recommended virtual interviews for the 2020 to 2021 residency application cycle.
Evaluation of Mobile Health Applications to Track Patient-Reported Outcomes for Oncology Patients: A Systematic ReviewIn response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a rapid growth in the use of telehealth/telemedicine that will likely be sustained in the postpandemic setting. Mobile health applications (apps) can be used as part of the telehealth encounter to monitor patient-reported outcomes (PROs) and enhance patient-provider communication.
Implementation of Telehealth in Radiation Oncology: Rapid Integration During COVID-19 and Its Future Role in Our PracticeThe widespread coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in significant changes in care delivery among radiation oncology practices and has demanded the rapid incorporation of telehealth. However, the impact of a large-scale transition to telehealth in radiation oncology on patient access to care and the viability of care delivery are largely unknown. In this manuscript, we review our implementation and report data on patient access to care and billing implications. Because telehealth is likely to continue after COVID-19, we propose a radiation oncology–specific algorithm for telehealth.
Strategies to Maximize Available Resources With Minimum Cost Escalation for Improving Radiation Therapy Accessibility in the Post–Coronavirus Disease 2019 Era: An Analysis for AsiaThere is widespread accord among economists that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic will have a severe negative effect on the global economy. Establishing new radiation therapy (RT) infrastructure may be significantly compromised in the post–COVID-19 era. Alternative strategies are needed to improve the existing RT accessibility without significant cost escalation. The outcomes of these approaches on RT availability have been examined for Asia.
Improving Diversity and Inclusion in the Post–Coronavirus Disease 2019 Era Through a Radiation Oncology Intensive Shadowing Experience (RISE)In response to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, current Association of American Medical Colleges guidelines discourage away rotations, posing significant challenges for attracting students to radiation oncology (RO). This is particularly concerning for medical students underrepresented in medicine (UIM) due to the potential of widening existing disparities in applicant and workforce composition. To proactively address this, we created a Radiation Oncology Intensive Shadowing Experience (RISE) to expose UIM students to the field of RO.
Students’ Perspectives and Concerns for the 2020 to 2021 Radiation Oncology Interview SeasonRecently, the Coalition for Physician Accountability Work Group on Medical Students in the Class of 2021 recommended limiting visiting medical student rotations, conducting virtual residency interviews, and delaying the standard application timeline owing to the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. These changes create both challenges and opportunities for medical students and radiation oncology residency programs. We conducted a comprehensive needs assessment to prepare for a virtual recruitment season, including a focus group of senior medical students seeking careers in oncology.
Increasing Medical Student Engagement Through Virtual Rotations in Radiation OncologyCoronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) affected medical student clerkships and education around the country. A virtual medical student clerkship was created to integrate didactic education with disease specific lectures for medical students, contouring, and hands on learning with telehealth. Twelve medical students in their 3rd and 4th year were enrolled in this 2 week elective from April 27, 2020 to June 5, 2020. There was significant improvement of overall knowledge about the field of radiation oncology from pre elective to post elective (P < .001).
Lessons to Learn From a Successful Virtual Mock Oral Examination Pilot Experienceoronavirus (COVID-19) has caused marked impact on graduate medical education for all medical specialties. Radiation Oncology and the American Board of Radiology have also had to rapidly adapt to converting education and examinations to virtual platforms. We describe our small pilot experience in transitioning our in-person mock oral examinations to a virtual platform. Survey-based assessment revealed excellent feedback regarding ease of use and educational usefulness. Our mock oral examinations pilot experience adds to evidence that virtual mock oral examinations are an important considerationfor Radiation Oncology education and a feasible alternative to an in-person oral examination.
Coronavirus Disease 2019’s (COVID-19’s) Silver Lining—Through the Eyes of Radiation Oncology FellowsThe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has propelled health care workers to the front lines against the pandemic. In addition to anxiety related to infection risks, trainees have the additional burden of learning and career planning while providing care in an uncertain and rapidly changing environment. We conducted a survey to evaluate the practical and psychosocial impact on radiation oncology fellows during the first month of the pandemic.