According to the National Cancer Institute, the overall cancer death rate has declined, which means the number of cancer survivors has increased. That alone is terrific news. Of course, a closer look at statistics will reveal there is still much work to be done. In the meantime, telehealth companies are in a perfect position to be of assistance.
With survival rates increasing, care for individuals living with and beyond cancer will be forced to evolve. Telehealth already allows patients to communicate remotely with healthcare providers. Yet, a new phenomenon has emerged. The exchange of data and communication between patients has led to the formation of entire communities of survivors.
Pain and depression management looms large over these communities. Neither oncologists nor psychiatrists are fully equipped to provide the necessary relief. The major cancer centers tend to be located in more densely populated areas. Patients in more remote locations are now turning to a new source for comfort: each other.
Healthcare providers are already encouraging patients to take an active role in their care management. Patients, in turn, are all too happy to avoid costly hospital and emergency room visits. Studies have shown that, from the comfort of their own home, these men and women are more likely to participate in cancer support groups over the phone or the internet. The same videoconferencing used for check-ins, follow-up visits or meetings with doctors is now being used to facilitate support groups for people with cancer in rural areas.
Who participates in these support groups? Aside from patients, family members and caregivers are welcome to participate. Topics covered include the basics of cancer treatment, pain management, psychological support and legal end-of-life issues.
No one who suffers from or has survived cancers should feel alone in their experience. At the same time, they may wish to minimize face-to-face interaction and have that experience in relative privacy. By lessening their sense of vulnerability and allowing them to remain in a familiar environment, telehealth is the perfect solution.