Although many healthcare professionals see a bright future for telehealth and expanded care in home care settings, oncology groups are drawing the line at chemotherapy infusions.
In a recent letter to regulators, the Association for Clinical Oncology noted that such cancer-fighting drugs may pose a health hazard to providers and patients if they are wrongly administered, mishandled or spilled.
“These safety concerns are what prompted ASCO to develop chemotherapy administration safety standards with the Oncology Nursing Society. However, [they] are specific to the outpatient setting and do not address specific safety concerns that could arise from home chemotherapy infusion,” ASCO said in the correspondence to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The Community Oncology Alliance released a statement earlier this year that also opposed home infusions of chemotherapy, immunotherapy and cancer-supportive drugs.
ASCO noted that it does support CMS’ proposal to expand the use of telehealth in the home care setting, provided:
- The telecommunications technology is related to the skilled services delivered;
- The plan of care outlines the use of telecommunications technology; and
- The telecommunications technology is linked to specific goals and indicates how the use of telehealth will help achieve those treatment outcomes.
“Granting [agencies] the flexibility to provide clinically appropriate and high-quality care to these beneficiaries through technology can help keep these vulnerable patients in their homes, reducing unnecessary exposure to all illnesses, not just COVID-19,” the letter added.