MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid has launched a video-consultation service for their Genetic Counselling on Hereditary Cancer Unit. Directed by Dr. Ricardo Cubedo, head of the sarcoma and hereditary cancer section of the Medical Oncology Department at the center, the objective is that the experience of a video-consultation be exactly the same as that of a presential appointment. “We hope to develop and polish the video-consultation until we reach a point where the technological aspect becomes invisible and, when the appointment ends, the person or people involved feel as if they are actually walking out of our building in Calle Arturo Soria in Madrid”, explains the specialist.
To achieve this, MD Anderson Madrid has set up a specific platform allowing video-consultation to be integrated with the clinical records and information systems scheduling modules. In addition to Oncology, video-consultation is available for other specialities including Cardiology, Gastrointestinal, Gynecology, Hematology, Maxilofacial, Psycho-oncology and Urology. “The idea is to make it as easy and pleasant as possible for people who need us”, stresses Dr. Cubedo.
The main advantage of video-consultation is that it gives us the option of “bringing together various family members who live in different parts of Spain or abroad at the same appointment, when it would otherwise be difficult to have them in the same place at the same time”, explains the doctor. Thanks to the new system, no family member is forced to actually travel, they just have to turn on their computer screen.
Furthermore, the Genetic Counselling Unit works particularly well with video-calls because “the center of all the action is not the physical examination of a patient or carrying out tests, but a detailed conversation about the family’s history and their concerns”.
This, together with the state of emergency in healthcare due to COVID-19, which has greatly reduced the number of consultations because members of family live in different provinces and because there is fear of contagion, has shown that video-consultation is ideal. “These circumstances made us think and believe that perhaps video-consultation may be not only a way of getting through the current situation, but also a new, preferred option for a sector of the general public”.
For the rest of the public, presential consultations with the Genetic Counselling on Hereditary Cancer Unit continue as usual. “Video-consultation is just an alternative for those who prefer it, but we are as happy as we have always been to receive families”. Indeed, the appointments schedule will be the same as before – the only change will be that appointments by video-call will combine with presential appointments.
These appointments are also growing in popularity. “The public is becoming more aware that hereditary factors can determine their probabilities of getting cancer and, in these times, when society is very concerned about health and are willing to make an effort in diet, exercise or lifestyle, it is frustrating that there is still a great part that is out of our control”, the expert in hereditary cancer points out.
For that reason, in the doctor’s opinion, part of the work of a specialist heading up a Genetic Counselling on Hereditary Cancer Unit is to help the public who are concerned enough to seek out a consultant to recover a degree of control of the genetic conditions they are born with and that will be with them throughout their life.