The 4 academic centers will evaluate the role of telehealth in areas such as prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment and survival.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth services became an essential service to enable patients to access much-needed care. To further enhance its service to cancer patients, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is awarding $23 million to 4 academic institutions to establish centers of excellence that will research the role of telehealth in the delivery of cancer-related healthcare .
The award supports the NCI’s Telehealth Research Centers of Excellence (TRACE) initiative and will be awarded over 5 years, pending funding availability. This award is also supported by the Cancer Moonshot initiative, which was launched in 2016 and relaunched by President Biden in 2022.
The use of telehealth has grown enormously since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling remote medical care from doctors and other providers using electronic means, such as telephone, email, SMS or videoconferencing. While the use of telecare has evolved into primary and specialty care, such as cancer care, little is known about how best to use and support telecare in the delivery of cancer-related care, according to the NIH.
“These centers will address important gaps in telehealth and cancer-related care delivery,” said Robin C. Vanderpool, DrPH, chief of the Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch in the NCI Division of Cancer Control and Population Services (DCCPS), in a press release. “We need to have a scientific basis for using this technology to deliver health care in oncology and make it part of routine care. In addition, these centers will explore opportunities for scalability and diffusion of their cancer-related telehealth interventions beyond their own health systems.”
The 4 academic centers will evaluate the role of telehealth in areas such as prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment and survival. In addition, each center will be led by an academic institution that has assembled diverse teams of researchers to conduct major studies in real-world clinical settings, such as hospitals, cancer centers, oncology practices, and primary care.
The 4 funded centers are:
- The Telehealth Research and Innovation for Veterans with Cancer (THRIVE) Telehealth Research Center: This center aims to work with the Veterans Health Administration to explore how social factors, such as race and ethnicity, poverty and rural residence, affect the delivery of telehealth care for cancer care.
- The Scalable Telehealth Center for Cancer Care (STELLAR): This center focuses on using telehealth to extend health services to cancer survivors, aimed at reducing risky behaviors, such as smoking and physical inactivity.
- The University of Pennsylvania Telehealth Research Center of Excellence (Penn TRACE): This center will use communication science and behavioral economics to compare the effectiveness of multiple telehealth strategies on shared decision-making for lung cancer screening and improve access to comprehensive molecular testing for advanced lung cancer.
- The Making Telehealth Delivery of Cancer Care at Home Effective and Safe (MATCHES) Telehealth Research Center: This center will study the effectiveness of a remote monitoring system called MSK@Home for patients receiving systemic treatments for prostate and breast cancer.
In addition to these initiatives, the centers will seek to identify and address telehealth disparities between vulnerable populations, such as racial and ethnic groups, rural residents, the elderly, the uninsured or low-income, those who are socially isolated, and those with limited digital literacy.
“These centers will be at the forefront of some great breakthroughs in creating sustainable and effective telehealth options specifically tailored to cancer care,” said Roxanne E. Jensen, PhD, a program director in the Outcomes Research Branch at DCCPS who oversees the TRACE initiative with Dr. Vanderpool, in a press release. “This work will pave the way for making healthcare look very different for cancer patients in the next 5 to 10 years, which is really exciting and in line with the goals of the Cancer Moonshot initiative.”
NIH awards $23 million to establish centers of excellence to study telehealth for cancer care. NIH. Aug 18, 2022. Accessed Aug 22, 2022. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-awards-23-million-establish-centers-excellence-study-telehealth-cancer-care