Patient- and Provider-Level Factors Associated With Telehealth Utilization Across a Multisite, Multiregional Cancer Practice From 2019 to 2021

JCO Oncol Pract. 2023 Sep;19(9):750-758. doi: 10.1200/OP.23.00118. Epub 2023 Jun 19.


Purpose: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many cancer practices rapidly adopted telehealth services. However, there is a paucity of data regarding ongoing telehealth visit utilization beyond this initial response. The purpose of this study was to assess changes in variables associated with telehealth visit utilization over time.

Methods: This is a cross-sectional, year-over-year, retrospective analysis of telehealth visits conducted across a multisite, multiregional cancer practice in the United States. Multivariable models examined the association of patient- and provider-level variables with telehealth utilization across outpatient visits conducted over three 8-week periods from July to August in 2019 (n = 32,537), 2020 (n = 33,399), and 2021 (n = 35,820).

Results: The rate of telehealth utilization increased from <0.01% (2019) to 11% (2020) to 14% (2021). The most significant patient-level factors associated with increased telehealth utilization included nonrural residence and age ≤65 years. Among patients residing in rural settings, video visit utilization rates were significantly lower and phone visit utilization rates were significantly higher compared with patients from nonrural residences. Regarding provider-level factors, widening differences in telehealth utilization were observed at tertiary versus community-based practice settings. Increased telehealth utilization was not associated with duplicative care as per-patient and per-physician visit volumes in 2021 remained consistent with prepandemic levels.

Conclusion: We observed continuous expansion in telehealth visit utilization from 2020 to 2021. Our experiences suggest that telehealth can be integrated into cancer practices without evidence of duplicative care. Future work should examine sustainable reimbursement structures and policies to ensure accessibility of telehealth as a means to facilitate equitable, patient-centered cancer care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / therapy
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Pandemics
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Telemedicine*