Lessons Learned from COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic left the healthcare system with many lessons learned across the spectrum of patient care: from logistics to clinical care capacity to the integration of digital support and interventions – no area was left unaffected.

With closed doctor’s offices, little to no access to public spaces, and a general fear of the unknown, a necessity for remote patient care drove a rapid surge in adoption.

Some conditions had longevity within the digital solutions landscape, making turn-key solutions more accessible. Other conditions, such as cancer, had less infrastructure for readily available digital patient support. In the wake of COVID-19, oncologists now not only had to figure out how to support the day-to-day of their patients’ physical and mental health and side effects from afar. Now, they had to create access to the life-saving treatments, clinical trials, surgeries, and direct patient care without having access to the patient.1 They had to figure out how to keep their already high-risk patients safe from COVID-19 and navigate unchartered waters of patients who did contract the virus.

Implementing digital health options was no longer a face of the future. Now, speed was paramount.

Life (Closer) to the Other Side

Now, nearly two years since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the healthcare system is still adapting to the ever-present curveballs.

In the same breath that we’ve seen exhaustion, sacrifice, and overload, we’ve seen resilience, innovation, and strength, especially as it pertains to those delivering care to patients with cancer. Furthermore, we’ve learned how to effectively leverage our resources, such as digital solutions, to reduce cost and increase the value of cancer care delivery.

We’ve identified ways to eliminate low-value direct patient care, as well as ways to complement high-value care with remote, non-clinical support.2

Adoption of digital technologies had previously been slow to grow, due to lack of motivation to implement, a perceived lack of ROI, and training barriers with an already stretched clinical workforce.3 Now, patients are seeing the fruit of the investment, as many hospital systems, health plans, and pharmaceutical manufacturers quickly began implementation out of a pressing need. The impact of this move has created systemic change, which can be seen by the recent CMS reimbursement protocols for telemedicine visits.

The healthcare system is likely to see continued optimizations and opportunities for the patient experience as it relates to cancer, especially by leveraging digital solutions in care delivery, symptom monitoring, and mitigating impacts of social determinants of health. In the long-term, these benefits speak to a new future of cancer care, with a revitalized focus on patient priorities.

Want to learn more about opportunities to evolve the patient experience as it relates to cancer? Hear from leaders from UCSF, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, and more by watching our latest webinar here.

Article updated 4/28/2023.

  1. Broom A, Kenny K, Page A, et al. The Paradoxical Effects of COVID-19 on Cancer Care: Current Context and Potential Lasting Impacts. Clin Cancer Res. 2020;26(22):5809-5813. doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-20-2989  
  2. Gyawali B, Poudyal BS, Eisenhauer EA. Covid-19 Pandemic—An Opportunity to Reduce and Eliminate Low-Value Practices in Oncology? JAMA Oncol. 2020;6(11):1693–1694. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.2404 
  3. Mullangi S, Schleicher SM, Aviki EM. Innovation in Cancer Care Delivery in the Era of COVID-19. JCO Oncol Pract. 2020;16(11):718-719. doi:10.1200/OP.20.00336