Implementation of Virtual Integrative Oncology Shared Medical Appointment Series (VIOSMAS) Within Mixed Diagnosis Population

Author: Michelle H Loy1,2, Lauren Prisco1, Chiti Parikh1,2
1 Cornell University, New York, NY, USA.
2 Weill Cornell Medicine/New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY, USA.
Conference/Journal: Integr Cancer Ther
Date published: 2024 Jan-Dec
Other: Volume ID: 23 , Pages: 15347354231223969 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1177/15347354231223969. , Word Count: 371

Integrative oncology [IO] is sought-after by patients, endorsed by clinical guidelines, and valued within National Cancer Institute Centers. Shared Medical Appointments [SMA] leverage health education and social connection to deliver enhanced patient experience, population health, cost-reduction, and clinician well-being. Integrative Oncology Shared Medical Appointments increase access to integrative medicine but delivering these services via telehealth have not been evaluated.

We created, and pilot tested a Virtual Integrative Oncology Shared Medical Appointment Series (VIOSMAS) to assess its feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy at an urban academic teaching hospital.

The 7-session hour-long Living Well with and after Cancer series included didactics, multi-disciplinary experiential sessions, and group discussion. Topics included (1) Introduction, (2) Herbs/Botanicals/Fungi, (3) Mindful Movement, (4) Acupuncture, (5) Narratives and Nature, (6) Diet and Culinary Medicine, and (7) Vitamins/Supplements. Virtual visits via telehealth were offered to enhance patient participation during the pandemic. Outcome measures included recruitment, retention, pre/post-series patient survey and qualitative clinician feedback.

Between 9/2021 and 4/2023, 72 unique patients were recruited to 5 cohorts and had a total of 332 VIOSMAS visits. A total of 50 patients (69%) attended 4 or more of the 7-session series; 60 (83% were women); patients ranged in age from 28 to 93 years (median 66); 36 (50%) lived outside the city center; the most common cancer diagnoses were breast, lymphoma, and lung cancer. Patients were from diverse demographics. Pre-program, patients reported desiring assistance in addressing diverse symptoms including fatigue, insomnia, pain, gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, anxiety, and depression. Post-series, patients reported that the VIOSMAS addressed their goals and symptoms; they also reported incorporating recommended lifestyle changes in diet, exercise, sleep, and stress management; they were satisfied with the number of sessions and telehealth format. The participating clinicians reported high levels of satisfaction with VIOSMAS. Revenue to the institution from VIOSMAS exceeded the revenue potential of equivalent time spent for individual visits while supporting extended physician-patient contact.

VIOSMAS is feasible for patients and clinicians, addresses patients' symptoms and questions about lifestyle and complementary therapies, and generates more revenue than individual visits. Larger implementation trials with appropriate comparison groups are recommended.

Keywords: acupuncture; botanicals; complementary integrative medicine; culinary medicine; group medical visits (GMV); herbs; integrative oncology (IO); mind-body; nutrition; qi gong; shared medical appointment (SMA); supplements; telehealth; virtual integrative oncology shared medical appointment series (VIOSMAS); vitamins; yoga.

PMID: 38243739 PMCID: PMC10799580 DOI: 10.1177/15347354231223969