AUSTIN -- State-of-the-art technology meets collaborative cancer care. One Central Texas healthcare system is making it possible for cancer patients to get a wide variety of care and consultation from a number of cancer specialists, even though the patients and some of those doctors may never meet in person.
A peak inside the new Cancer Care Collaborative conference room at Seton Medical Center Austin revealed what looked like a class being taught by Dr. Declan Fleming, a surgical oncologist. A second look, and it was clear this was not a class -- it was a conversation. It included Dr. Craig Kemper, Seton's neuro oncology director who's several blocks away.
"Modern cancer care is done in a multidisciplinary fashion," said Fleming.
That means medical and radiation oncologists and surgeons all working together to coordinate the best possible care for the patients.
"At big cancer centers like MD Anderson and several others, all those people are under one roof," said Fleming. "That just doesn't exist here in town."
Fleming says state-of-the-art technology is allowing Seton to bring the "under one roof" concept to its Cancer Care Collaborative.
"Just like businesses have been doing tele-business for a long time, we're doing tele-medicine," said Fleming.
Even if physicians aren't able to leave their office, they can still participate virtually.
"They're able to see on their own computer the same images that we see right here," said Fleming. "They are able to speak to us in real time."
In fact, Dr. Kemper sees something on his office computer as he and Dr. Fleming discuss one patient's diagnosis.
"At six o'clock there's a small nodule protruding from the kidney," said Kemper, during the teleconferencing discussion.
The virtual format allowed KVUE News to interview Kemper without leaving the room. KVUE's Jim Bergamo asked him, "Why is this better? What more can you offer that patient that perhaps a bunch of doctors under one roof cannot offer?"
"The geographical problem of complex care basically separates the patients from the individuals caring for them," said Kemper. This type of technology allows us to engage the patient wherever they may be; so statewide, national or even international."
Doctors at Seton say another advantage is, regardless of where patients live, this technology allows their personal physicians to be included in the collaborative care.