Will virtual multidisciplinary team meetings become the norm for musculoskeletal oncology care following the COVID-19 pandemic? - experience from a tertiary sarcoma centre.
Rajasekaran RB., Whitwell D., Cosker TDA., Gibbons CLMH., Carr A.
BACKGROUND: Like with all cancers, multidisciplinary team (MDT) meetings are the norm in bone and soft tissue tumour (BST) management too. Problem in attendance of specialists due to geographical location is the one of the key barriers to effective functioning of MDTs. To overcome this problem, virtual MDTs involving videoconferencing or telemedicine have been proposed, but however this has been seldom used and tested. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the implementation of virtual MDTs in the Oxford sarcoma service in order to maintain normal service provision. We conducted a survey among the participants to evaluate its efficacy. METHODS: An online questionnaire comprising of 24 questions organised into 4 sections was circulated among all participants of the MDT after completion of 8 virtual MDTs. Opinions were sought comparing virtual MDTs to the conventional face-to-face MDTs on various aspects. A total of 36 responses were received and were evaluated. RESULTS: 72.8% were satisfied with the depth of discussion in virtual MDTs and 83.3% felt that the decision-making in diagnosis had not changed following the switch from face-to-face MDTs. About 86% reported to have all essential patient data was available to make decisions and 88.9% were satisfied with the time for discussion of patient issues over virtual platform. Three-fourths of the participants were satisfied (36.1% - highly satisfied; 38.9% - moderately satisfied) with virtual MDTs and 55.6% of them were happy to attend MDTs only by the virtual platform in the future. Regarding future, 77.8% of the participants opined that virtual MDTs would be the future of cancer care and an overwhelming majority (91.7%) felt that the present exercise would serve as a precursor to global MDTs involving specialists from abroad in the future. CONCLUSION: Our study shows that the forced switch to virtual MDTs in sarcoma care following the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic to be a viable and effective alternative to conventional face-to-face MDTs. With effective and efficient software in place, virtual MDTs would also facilitate in forming extended MDTs in seeking opinions on complex cases from specialists abroad and can expand cancer care globally.