Telemedicine in Radiotherapy: A Study Exploring Remote Treatment Planning, Supervision and Economics

J Telemed Telecare. 2005;11(5):245-50. doi: 10.1258/1357633054471858.

Abstract

In January 2002, the departments of radiotherapy at the University Hospital of North Norway and the Norwegian Radium Hospital were connected through a 2 Mbit/s digital telecommunication line. The treatment planning systems at the two institutions were connected and videoconferencing units were installed. We explored the feasibility of remote treatment planning, supervision, second opinions and education. Tests involved two dummy cases and six patients. Remote simulation procedures were carried out for five patients. A cost-minimization analysis was performed. Treatment planning was not completely successful as the software could not handle plans including bolus or weighting between the fields. Remote supervision was possible. A common patient record and radiotherapy system, including digital imaging, digital prescription and approval forms and digital signature, were felt to be desirable. The threshold (break-even point) comparing the costs of telemedicine with those of transportation by air was 12 patients/year. Telemedicine in radiotherapy appears to be feasible, but some limitations must be overcome.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Costs and Cost Analysis / methods
  • Education, Medical, Continuing
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiotherapy / economics
  • Radiotherapy / methods*
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted / economics
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Remote Consultation / economics
  • Remote Consultation / methods
  • Telemedicine / economics
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Videoconferencing / instrumentation