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Videoconferencing, an impetus to Pediatric Oncology

An article in the January 2007 issue of the Pediatric Blood & Cancer investigates the use of videoconferencing in communicating// vital developments in healthcare between industrialized and developing countries, as a way to realize enhancements in patient healthcare.

Pediatric oncology has witnessed path breaking strides in survival rates in industrialized countries over the last several decades, but developing nations still have a long way to go before they catch up, notwithstanding the fact that nearly 85 percent of childhood malignancies occur in these countries. Impediments to progress in the development of pediatric oncology programs include poverty, malnutrition, lack of education, and compliance. Dearth of pediatric oncologist specialists, and absence of communication channels, has also contributed to the status quo in developing nations.

Efforts to improve medical care in developing countries include twinning programs that involve the exchange of personnel between participating institutions, a practice that is time consuming and expensive. Telemedicine, another way of communicating and distributing information, is already being used in industrialized countries for educational purposes, second opinions and quality assurance in a number of fields, but there are few reports of its impact in developing countries.

Led by Ibrahim Qaddoumi of the King Hussein Cancer Center in Amman, Jordan, and Eric Bouffet of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, a systematic twinning program was established for children with brain tumors. This twining program included videoconferencing as an essential component, where a 20 videoconference sessions were conducted between the two hospitals between December 2004 and May 2006 to discuss 64 patients, some of them several times. For 23 patients, clinical care recommendations resulting from the conferences differed significantly from the original plan and were mostly followed. The most
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