shao connie crop 200x150General Surgery Resident Connie Shao, M.D., is featured in HemOnc Today’s article entitled “Studies offer insight into telehealth availability, patient use for cancer management.” 

Shao presented this research at the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress, which was held Oct. 23-27, 2021. Her research is funded by the American College of Surgeons and the AHRQ Health Services Outcomes and Effectiveness Research (HSOER) T32, led by Dr. Michael Mugavero. Her research is mentored by Dr. Daniel Chu and Dr. Sushanth Reddy.

Shao aimed to characterize telehealth use among a diverse population of patients with cancer residing in the Deep South during the COVID-19 pandemic. Phone visits were more commonly used than video visits by Black patients, older patients, patients from lower-income ZIP codes, and patients with public insurance, reflective of the digital divide.

Shao described the complicated relationship between healthcare access and meeting patients where they’re at. “We have also found that patient satisfaction with telehealth decreases with age, but only for phone-based telemedicine and satisfaction with video-based telehealth is very high for patients of all ages,” Shao said. “Satisfaction is worse for patients who have a scheduled video-based visit but end up converting to a phone-based visit, typically due to technical difficulties.”

Shao is currently conducting qualitative and mixed methods research as well to better understand the barriers and facilitators to telehealth use from patient, provider, staff, and policy perspectives. 

“The expansion of telemedicine has created a great opportunity for us to reduce the distance between patients and hospitals. Now we’re trying to reduce the distance created by the digital divide,” said Shao. “Next steps will include expanding broadband and technology access, training patients and their caregivers, and having support available for patients and providers.”