ASCO Special Report Offers Guidance on Cancer Care Delivery During Pandemic

May 28, 2020

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recently released a detailed guidance to oncology practices

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recently released a detailed guidance to oncology practices aimed at protecting the safety of patients and health care workers during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The ASCO Special Report: A Guide to Cancer Care Delivery During the COVID-19 Pandemic provides information on a wide range of policies and practices developed by cancer facilities, as well as guidance provided by government agencies and other medical societies. The report was developed by a group of ASCO expert volunteers who work in diverse practice settings, and is not intended to provide recommendations for care of individual patients.

Topics include:

  • Best practices for triaging/screening patients before appointments to reduce infection risk.

  • Guidance for providing cancer care to patients who are COVID-19-positive or under investigation for COVID-19.

  • Considerations for communicating with staff and patients about new protocols to protect patient health and safety.

  • Suggested policies and protocols for limiting infection spread by health care personnel through screening, testing, modified sick leave and work-from-home policies, and other measures.

  • Guidance for establishing physical distancing policies in clinical, administrative, and non-patient care areas of cancer facilities.

The report also discusses telemedicine as a means to expand service capabilities, especially in COVID-19 surges. This involves identifying visits that continue to be appropriate for telemedicine and visits that include a combination of in-office and telemedicine. For the pharmacy, the guidance recommends considering telemedicine for oral oncolytic agent adherence and patient counseling.

Related: Navigating Oncology Pharmacy Practice During COVID-19 Pandemic

Telemedicine visit types may include:

  • Patients not requiring an in-person exam, treatment, or in-office diagnostics.

  • Other patient visits such as follow-ups, oral oncolytic treatment adherence, survivorship, palliative care, genetic counseling, support services, and patient education.

  • Telephonic and telehealth interactions for triage and quick assessment of patients.

  • Symptom monitoring for high-risk patients.

“As oncologists, we want nothing more than to provide the highest quality cancer care to each and every patient. The decision to dial-back operations during the pandemic has not been an easy one for any oncology practice or cancer care provider,” ASCO President Howard A. “Skip” Burris III, MD, FACP, FASCO, said in a statement. “While the move to resume normal operations will be slow and steady, we hope this report gives oncology practices the guidance they need to determine when and how to return to a ‘new normal’ as the impact of the pandemic begins to ease.”

Read the full ASCO Special Report: A Guide to Cancer Care Delivery During the COVID-19 Pandemic

References:

1. American Society of Clinical Oncology. ASCO Special Report: A Guide to Cancer Care Delivery During the COVID-19 Pandemic. May 19, 2020. Accessed May 28, 2020. https://www.asco.org/sites/new-www.asco.org/files/content-files/2020-ASCO-Guide-Cancer-COVID19.pdf.

2. Special Report Provides Guidance to Oncology Practices on Resuming Cancer Care During COVID-19 Pandemic. News Release. ASCO; May 19, 2020. Accessed May 28, 2020. https://www.asco.org/about-asco/press-center/news-releases/special-report-provides-guidance-oncology-practices-resuming