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Measures for provision of Optimal Oncology care During COVID-19

Objective: To communicate simple tips to HCP’s for delivering optimal care during COVID-19 pandemic.

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, is spreading worldwide. The current trend anticipates a surge in spread that may have troubling impact on the healthcare delivery system.

The oncology professionals are working diligently to deliver optimum treatment and care to cancer patients while assuring safety of patients and healthcare workers. During these times, self-care of healthcare professionals is an important aspect.

Tips for provision of Optimal-care

  • Continued Care: The foremost element for every oncology professional is to maintain high-quality cancer care for patients requiring immediate attention. This depends on cancer progression, individual patient’s conditions, and their risk from exposure to COVID-19. Urgent cases with active disease should be considered and follow-up visits can be postponed. Benefits of a well-managed treatment plan should outweigh the risk of COVID-19 infection in a cancer patient.
  • New Routine and Plans: Limited resources and inadequate protective measures may affect the healthcare delivery. Contingency plans for delivering cancer care should be designed and assessed for different circumstances while working closely with local administrators. Limiting direct patient care and encouraging telemedicine and teleconsulting, such as ‘telephone triage’, especially for patients on oral therapies or having flu-like symptoms, should be considered to reduce patient visits.
  • Protection of healthcare professionals and Patients: Oncology professionals and healthcare workers are at risk of exposure to COVID-19 infection, prolonged working hours, as well as psychological stress. Training on prevention and control of infection is needed to ensure safety of both workers and patients. At work, use of personal protective equipment and rotational shifts for professionals are recommended. At home, healthcare professionals are encouraged to follow basic safety measures (washing their hands often, practicing social distancing).
  • Enhanced Patient Support: Telephone or web-mediated consultation to educate and support patients remotely, discuss any change in regimen, and inform patients regarding visit delays and cancellations to safeguard patient’s wellbeing.

References ESMO. COVID-19: Supporting Oncology Professionals. Available at: https://www.esmo.org/covid-19-and-cancer/supporting-oncology-professionals. As accessed Apr 29, 2020.

The World Health Organization. Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak: Rights, Roles and Responsibilities of Health Workers, Including Key Considerations for Occupational Safety and Health. Available at: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/who-rights-roles-respon-hw-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=bcabd401_0.