Virtual multidisciplinary team meetings
- In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, cancer care multidisciplinary team (MDT) meetings transformed rapidly from in-person to virtual meetings.1
Impact of change
- Virtual MDTs helped to reduce the risk of exposure to, and harm from, SARS-CoV-2 infection for clinicians.2
- Virtual MDTs has improved the ease of clinician attendance3 and enabled engagement of the MDT with primary care for improved care planning.4
- There is an opportunity for virtual MDTs to become a standard component of future clinical workflows5 including a mixture of in-person and virtual attendance for MDT members to support communication and coordination of care across diverse locations and optimise clinician time.4
How can high-value changes be embedded or enhanced?
The following strategies were identified in Australian and international literature and by leading Australian cancer experts and consumers. This list is provided to prompt considerations and future strategies to support high-value cancer care in the Recovery phases of the COVID-19 pandemic.
These strategies are listed at the system-, service-, practitioner-, and patient-levels and are intended to be used by a range of cancer control stakeholders across Australia to support high-value cancer care and improve outcomes for people with cancer.
- Promoting incentives to support greater utilisation of MDTs, in both face-to-face and virtual formats.
- Strategically investing in information technology infrastructure, and technical and administrative personnel4 to support the workflows of virtual MDTs, including the prioritisation of data security and patient privacy when using digital platforms.6
- Establishing communication linkages, including software and hardware capability to allow rapid and efficient transfer of images and other data to all participants to enable team preparation and participation, to integrate decision‐making and to implement comprehensive follow‐up.7
- Evaluating the quality of decision-making of the virtual MDT, as compared to the face-to-face format, in improving guideline adherence and patient outcomes.4,8,9
- Exploring and reinforcing the sustainability of virtual healthcare and its overall impact on both clinicians and patients to support health professional uptake of virtual working practices.1
- Increasing health professional familiarity with technical aspects of using videoconferencing platforms, including viewing imaging and pathology electronically.4
- Providing information and training for health professionals on the importance of protecting patient privacy in virtual settings, and the management of security (e.g. using secure, end-to-end encrypted platforms for videoconferencing).5
- Providing guidance for health professionals on how to effectively run, and participate in, virtual MDT meetings (including MDTs with a mixture of in-person and virtual attendance) to support effective engagement and appropriate videoconferencing etiquette.4
- Educating health professionals to improve adherence to multidisciplinary care guidance.3
- Evaluating the extent to which a virtual MDT affects patient outcomes in comparison to a traditional face-to-face MDT, with particular reference to Cancer Australia principles of multidisciplinary care.10
 Aseem R, Warren O, Mills S et al. Adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic: challenges and opportunities of frontline colorectal cancer teams in the UK. Int J Colorectal Dis. 2020. doi: 10.1007/s00384-020-03647-2
 Salari A, Shirkhoda M. COVID-19 pandemic & head and neck cancer patients management: The role of virtual multidisciplinary team meetings. Oral Oncol. 2020;105:104693. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2020.104693
 Dharmarajan, H, Anderson, JL, Kim, S, et al. Transition to a virtual multidisciplinary tumor board during the COVID‐19 pandemic: University of Pittsburgh experience. Head & Neck. 2020; 42: 1310–6. doi: 10.1002/hed.26195
 Sidpra J, Chhabda S, Gaier C, Alwis A, Kumar N, Mankad K. Virtual multidisciplinary team meetings in the age of COVID-19: an effective and pragmatic alternative. Quant Imaging Med Surg. 2020;10(6):1204-1207. doi: 10.21037/qims-20-638
 Lamprell K, Arnolda G, Delaney G et al. The challenge of putting principles into practice: Resource tensions and real‐world constraints in multidisciplinary oncology team meetings. Asia Pac J Clin Oncol. 2019;15(4):199-207. doi: 10.1111/ajco.13166.
 Cancer Australia. Principles of multidisciplinary care. Accessed: August 2020; https://www.canceraustralia.gov.au/clinical-best-practice/multidisciplinary-care/all-about-multidisciplinary-care/principles-multidisciplinary-care