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The role of virtual consultations in cancer genetics: challenges and opportunities introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic

Redman, Melody G., Aguda, Vernie, Dore, Rhys, Lim, Jen O., Speight, Beverley and McVeigh, Terri P. 2023. The role of virtual consultations in cancer genetics: challenges and opportunities introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic. BJC Reports 1 , 6. 10.1038/s44276-023-00009-7

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The COVID-19 pandemic changed the delivery of healthcare within the United Kingdom. A virtual model of care, utilising telephone and video consultations, was rapidly imposed upon cancer genetics teams. This large-scale change in service delivery has led to new opportunities that can be harnessed to improve patient care. There is a clear potential to mitigate geographical barriers, meet increasing patient expectations of implementing virtual consultations, reduce hospital carbon footprints, and decrease hospital costs while increasing efficiency. However, there are also significant challenges introduced by this model of care. Virtual healthcare consultations introduce another new level of digital exclusion for patients and clinicians. There are also potential challenges for maintaining patient confidentiality, and limited utility in circumstances where a physical exam may be warranted. For clinicians, there may be impacts on empathetic responses delivered and challenges in workflow and workload. Virtual consultations are likely to continue being a feature of cancer genetics services. A flexible approach is needed to allow for virtual and traditional models of care to work together and best meet patients’ needs. Cancer genetics services should harness the opportunities provided by virtual processes to improve patient care, whilst collaborating with patient groups and other stakeholders to carefully examine and address the challenges that virtual consultations introduce.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:, Type: open-access
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group UK
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 3 August 2023
Date of Acceptance: 10 July 2023
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2023 07:10

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