Multiple Myeloma

Telehealth

The concerns surrounding COVID-19 pushed cancer care into the digital age. Patients may now receive some medical care from a distance through technology such as computers, cameras, video conferencing, the internet, satellite and wireless communications. You may hear it referred to as “telemedicine” or “virtual appointments.”

These appointments are conducted through patient portals or on another video or web conferencing platform, which is a computer interface that uses a camera, smartphone or a laptop computer. Some commonly used platforms are FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Zoom, WebEx and Skype.

Telehealth may be a welcome option for multiple myeloma patients, especially those who are in remission, are taking oral-based therapies or are receiving maintenance therapy who have already had their initial consultation and may not need an in-person visit. Other benefits include:

  • Reduces travel for patients who live far from a center
  • Eliminates the need to find transportation or child care
  • Adds another layer of safety by limiting potential exposure to infections in clinics and hospitals
  • Allows access to more cancer specialists
  • Makes it easier to obtain a second opinion
  • Enables you to stay home if you feel unwell or find it physically challenging to go to a center
  • Reduces disruption to your daily life
  • Offers an easy way to report symptoms or complications between follow-up visits
  • Allows caregivers to ask questions during visits

Many hospitals and cancer centers are offering telehealth, and more insurance companies are covering it, including Medicare and Medicaid. Contact your insurance provider to find out if telehealth visits are covered in your plan.

If you are planning a virtual appointment, here are some ways to prepare:

  • Make a list of the subjects you want to discuss.
  • Review your medications to know which ones need refills.
  • Complete any lab work ahead of time so the results are available to review during your appointment.

Not every patient is comfortable using a virtual platform. If you have challenges or don’t have access to the necessary technology, let your provider know. If you are uncomfortable with virtual appointments, ask your doctor’s office to meet in person.

Virtual appointments are not designed to replace in-person visits with your health care team. Most physicians require an initial in-person visit before beginning telehealth appointments. They are, however, designed to provide you with a convenient alternative.

 

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