Patients with cancer face many challenges. Patients in rural areas face those same challenges but also must overcome another huge hurdle: access to care.
We have developed a program that not only addresses the stresses and fears that are common to all cancer patients, but affords them access to state-of-the-art care right in their local community.
The Rural Oncology Network, using telemedicine technology, provides patients in remote areas without access to nearby cancer services, virtual visits with their physicians at our cancer center, which in turn is linked to the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center in Sacramento. We currently operate these telemedicine clinics in Quincy, Portola, Loyalton and South Lake Tahoe.
Patients meet with a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner at the remote site for office visits and together connect with their Tahoe Forest Cancer Center physician. This Rural Oncology Network allows them to receive the same care they would experience if they physically traveled to the cancer center.
Using a high-quality secure telemedicine video connection, patients who either cannot afford to, or do not feel well enough to travel long distances are able to stay close to home and still receive the best available care.
This structure could serve as a model for rural cancer care across the United States.