Virtual care in cancer services

Virtual care, also known as telehealth, safely connects patients with health professionals to deliver care when and where it is needed. Telephone, video conferencing and remote monitoring are examples of virtual care technologies.
Virtual care in cancer services

What is virtual care?

Virtual care is an integral part of a sustainable health system that delivers outcomes that matter to patients. Where clinically appropriate, virtual care is a safe, effective and a valuable way to support patient and family-centred care. It often complements face-to-face care.

We encourage NSW cancer services to consider the use of virtual care as a part of normal practice. It provides many benefits for people with cancer, carers and health care professionals across NSW cancer services, including helping people to receive more appropriate care in a timely fashion. 

Promoting the use of virtual care in cancer services will increase the choices available to clinicians and patients. This will provide a variety of options to provide and access care.


In NSW, virtual care can be delivered in different ways, including:

telephone 

telephone – an audio connection between two or more people
 

video conference 

video conference – video connection of two or more people allowing all participants to speak to each other, see each other and in some cases exchange data simultaneously
 

remote monitoring 

remote monitoring – using technology to collect and send medical data to an app, device or service.
 

store and forward 

store and forward – where a patient allows clinical information to be collected and sent electronically to another person or site for evaluation or management.
 

 

Patients should speak to their clinicians to determine if virtual care is an option for them.

When considering virtual care NSW health clinicians should consult with their local Virtual Care / Telehealth Manager who can provide support

Virtual care in cancer

Case studies

This case study explores the BreastScreen NSW virtual assessment clinic in greater southern NSW. This virtual model of care provides women living in regional and rural areas with access to remote multidisciplinary and specialist care.

Western NSW LHD provides virtual care to increase local access to services for people in small communities. In order for people to receive cancer treatment closer to home the district adapted the Queensland remote chemotherapy supervision model for the community of Coonabarabran. 

This was to improve cancer outcomes for people living in all communities using telehealth to supervise the administration of cancer treatments. Providing a local service offers patients the alternative to a four-hour round trip to the Dubbo Oncology Unit for treatment. 

Dr Florian Honeyball is based at Dubbo Hospital and is the chair of the Western NSW LHD cancer services clinical stream. RVAC demonstrates how specialist medical services can be effectively provided using virtual care. Between October 2017 and August 2019, the Coonabarabran RVAC service treated 26 patients, saving 820 hours in travel time and approximately 68,000 kms of travel. 

This document outlines the cancer care telehealth model at Mid North Coast and Northern NSW Cancer Institutes, which connects a specialist with the patient and their primary care team, allowing cancer care follow-up to be held with patients in their community. 

Useful resources

Virtual Care in NSW Local Health Districts

Key contacts 

The Virtual Care Central (VCC)

The VCC is the key reference point for virtual care information for NSW Health staff, providing a central hub for information, resources and news. 

It can help you to identify and connect with others to assist and support the integration of virtual care into your clinical practice.