Impact of COVID19 on Radiation OncologyRick Jones
It is no revelation that COVID19 and the associated response have affected every aspect of our lives. Health care is particularly impacted, and not evenly. With an infectious disease taking center stage it has severely disrupted other health care services, even services that are critical to life and health.
Impacts on Radiation Oncology Clinics
The National Center for Biotechnology Information developed a report at the outset of COVID19 in the US to outline concerns and changes Oncology Clinics can expect. Three critical takeaways are:
- Clinics need to change practices to reduce potential of spread to a very vulnerable population
- Increased cleaning
- Decrease in numbers of patients waiting for treatment
- Patients care will be interrupted if they are infected
- Staff may decrease as staff members are exposed or confirmed infected
Patients Delaying Care
In the wake of the COVID19 response, many patients delayed treatment, and there was a noted decline in appointments. Appointments are on the rise, but the future remains uncertain and personal finances of patients have been impacted. Many cancer experts have pointed out that COVID-19 has exacerbated health disparities, making the underserved more underserved (The Cancer Letter, May 22).
Impacts of Downtime
During this critical time of change, equipment downtime becomes an even greater concern than ever. Clinics cannot afford delaying patient treatment or increasing the backlog of cases.
Costs of Equipment Maintenance
Equipment vendors are aware of these needs and have adopted a strategy of requiring linac software and hardware upgrades to receive continued maintenance. This serves them in two ways:
- They create a more consistent equipment inventory in the field
- They increase revenues
Impacts of Reduced Budgets
During this time of budget distress faced by clinics and patients, and the cost of upgrades and maintenance, this puts clinics in a difficult bind.
A Better Way
A recent, and little-known alternative is to shift software maintenance and proactive system monitoring to a qualified independent software support provider. Dignatel can service and maintain legacy systems as well as current versions to keep you up and running while helping you avoid unnecessary and costly upgrades. The savings can be in the millions of dollars. Dignatel technicians are factory trained and fully qualified in the most popular software and can provide world class service right now, when you need it most—at a substantially reduced price.