• Article

Assessing the feasibility of a virtual tumor board program

Multidisciplinary tumor boards involve various providers (e.g., oncology physicians, nurses) in patient care. Although many community hospitals have local tumor boards that review all types of cases, numerous providers, particularly in rural areas and smaller institutions, still lack access to tumor boards specializing in a particular type of cancer (e.g., hematologic). Videoconferencing technology can connect providers across geographic locations and institutions; however, virtual tumor board (VTB) programs using this technology are uncommon. In this study, we evaluated the feasibility of a new VTB program at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, which connects community-based clinicians to UNC tumor boards representing different cancer types. Methods included observations, interviews, and surveys. Our findings suggest that participants were generally satisfied with the VTB. Cases presented to the VTB were appropriate, sufficient information was available for discussion, and technology problems were uncommon. UNC clinicians viewed the VTB as a service to patients and colleagues and an opportunity for clinical trial recruitment. Community-based clinicians presenting at VTBs valued the discussion, even if it simply confirmed their original treatment plan or did not yield consensus recommendations. Barriers to participation for community-based clinicians included timing of the VTB and lack of reimbursement. To maximize benefits of the VTB, these barriers should be addressed, scheduling and preparation processes optimized, and appropriate measures for evaluating impact identified.

Citation

Shea, C. M., Haynes-Maslow, L., McIntyre, M., Weiner, B. J., Wheeler, S. B., Jacobs, S., ... Shea, T. C. (2014). Assessing the feasibility of a virtual tumor board program. Journal of Healthcare Management, 59(3), 177 - 193. https://doi.org/10.1097/00115514-201405000-00005