Dr. Jeremie LeverUAB Medical Scientist Training Program student Jeremie Lever, Ph.D., General Surgery Resident, Ahmer Irfan, M.D., and Department of Surgery Associate Professor Sushanth Reddy, M.D., were authors of a top scoring abstract for the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN)2021 Virtual Annual Meeting.

Their abstract was scored within health services research category. Additional Department of Surgery faculty who authored the study include: Thomas Wang, M.D., Ph.D., J. Bart Rose, M.D., MAS, FACS, and Daniel Chu, M.D.

Their abstract was titled “Telehealth is here—are patients ready for it? An analysis of technological knowledge in cancer patients.” The authors hypothesized that in the state of Alabama, disparities exist in the resources available to utilize telehealth and sought to study patient access and knowledge of associated technologies.

To test their hypothesis, Lever and team performed a single-center cross-sectional survey study of patients at the NCI-designated O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB (OCCC) in surgical oncology, breast oncology, medical oncology and gynecologic oncology outpatient clinic settings.

Notably, at the O’Neal Cancer Center, nearly one-third of cancer patients did not have adequate internet access for telehealth video visits. There were significant disparities in technological knowledge among cancer patients which were associated with demographic characteristics, such as age, race and income.

“These data will hopefully allow us to identify and provide additional support to patients who may not be adequately equipped to take full advantage of telehealth for their cancer care,” said Lever.

“The best research is that which allows us to improve on our patient care in impactful, tangible ways,” said Reddy. “Drs. Lever and Irfan did a wonderful job getting to the heart of the issue of disparities in telehealth appointments and discovered powerful implications for cancer patients in Alabama.”

Top scoring abstracts are published in the print version of JNCCN and are presented orally Mar. 20th at the annual meeting. The NCCN annual virtual meeting will take place Mar. 18-20, and as an NCCN member institution through the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, UAB faculty and trainees may apply for free meeting registration.