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Optimizing the Communication with Cancer Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Patient Perspectives

Authors Tashkandi E, BaAbdullah M, Zeeneldin A, AlAbdulwahab A, Elemam O, Elsamany S, Alfayez M, Dabash Y, Khayat E, Hassanin F, Abdulhameed R, Jazieh AR

Received 19 May 2020

Accepted for publication 2 July 2020

Published 20 July 2020 Volume 2020:14 Pages 1205—1212


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen

Emad Tashkandi,1,2 M BaAbdullah,3 Ahmed Zeeneldin,1,4 A AlAbdulwahab,1 Omima Elemam,1,5 S Elsamany,1,5 M Alfayez,1,2 Y Dabash,6 E Khayat,7 Fayza Hassanin,8 Rasha Abdulhameed,8 Abdul Rahman Jazieh9

1Oncology Center, King Abdullah Medical City, Makkah, Saudi Arabia; 2College of Medicine, Umm AlQura University, Makkah, Saudi Arabia; 3Information Technology, King Abdullah Medical City, Makkah, Saudi Arabia; 4Department of Oncology, National Cancer Institute, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt; 5Oncology Centre, Mansoura University, Mansoura, Egypt; 6Patients Affairs, King Abdullah Medical City, Makkah, Saudi Arabia; 7Patients Experience, King Abdullah Medical City, Makkah, Saudi Arabia; 8Nursing Administration, King Abdullah Medical City, Makkah, Saudi Arabia; 9Department of Oncology, King Abdulaziz Medical City, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence: Emad Tashkandi
Oncology Center, King Abdullah Medical City, College of Medicine, Umm AlQura University, Makkah, Saudi Arabia
Tel +966 555 29 0061
Email [email protected]

Background: During curfew, patients are self-isolated at home and worried. Patient–doctor interactions may be disrupted and therefore need to be replaced by alternative effective communication methods.
Purpose: To describe the preferences of cancer patients with respect to communication methods and the use of patient-accessible electronic health records (PAEHRs). To record the impact on cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic and the knowledge and attitude of the patients towards it.
Patients and Methods: We created a self-administered electronic survey that was piloted and evaluated for its clinical relevance. Using convenient sampling methods, we surveyed the cancer patients in our Oncology Center.
Results: We received 385 responses between April 15 and April 30, 2020. The preferred method for communication was a phone call with a 92% response rate followed by the electronic patient portal, mobile application, telemedicine and text message in 75%, 76%, 73%, and 72%, respectively. The majority (97%) preferred the use of PAEHRs for appointments, 95% for drug delivery and to view laboratory tests, and 92% in requesting medical reports. In our survey, 22% of patients with cancer reported that their medical cancer care had not been affected by COVID-19. They reported that trusted sources of information during COVID-19 included the Ministry of Health with 98% and doctors with 94%. Sixty-one percent know that they are more susceptible to COVID-19 infection and 91% of respondents supported the notion of digital transformation in the caring of cancer patients.
Conclusion: Our study revealed a general acceptance of patients to telecommunication as substitute to in-person interaction with their physicians. Interaction between cancer patients and health care providers should not be disrupted but should be augmented with more effective platforms to improve health care outcomes.

Keywords: patient preference, e-health, patient online access, health disparities, cancer, COVID-19

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