Virtual Conferences Allow Earlier Detection of Disease for Lung Cancer Patients

Doctors at the McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence, South Carolina, recently expanded a Lung Cancer Screening Program to include a multi-disciplinary Lung Nodule Clinic which works to detect cancerous lung nodules earlier in patients. 

Lung nodules are abnormal growths that can form in the lungs. They are common and in most cases are benign. However, these nodules can be a sign of lung cancer. Dr. Vinod Jona, MD, a pulmonologist and chief of staff at McLeod Regional Medical Center, said it’s important to find out quickly if a nodule is cancerous. 

“We don’t want to overburden the patient saying that every nodule is a cancer, at the same time the cases which are cancer, time is important and it takes a lot of money, effort and physicians to manage those cancers,” Dr. Jona said. 

Using telehealth, patients can connect to the Lung Nodule Clinic through a video call. Before the use of this telehealth clinic, patients waited more than three months for a care plan. That's because scheduling a visit with each specialist took time. But now all the specialists are brought together and patients receive a care plan within one week. 

“The good thing about this is instead of the patient going to all the different clinics, it is one stop and they have a plan,” Dr. Jona said.  

This new system is a “game-changer,” according to Dr. Jona. In addition to cutting down on travel time, using telehealth also allows more family members to join the video call and connect to the clinic. 

“The whole family can participate in this,” Dr. Jona said. “This is prime time; they can see what’s really going on and that has helped the patients and the family understand exactly what is going on.”