Copyright ©The Author(s) 2020. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Clin Oncol. Dec 24, 2020; 11(12): 968-975
Published online Dec 24, 2020. doi: 10.5306/wjco.v11.i12.968
COVID-19 and information and communication technology in radiation oncology: A new paradigm
Castalia Fernández, Virginia Ruiz, Felipe Couñago
Castalia Fernández, Department of Radiation Oncology, GenesisCare Madrid, Madrid 28043, Spain
Virginia Ruiz, Department of Radiation Oncology, Hospital Universitario de Burgos, Burgos 09006, Spain
Felipe Couñago, Department of Radiation Oncology, Hospital Universitario Quirónsalud Madrid, Madrid 28028, Spain
Felipe Couñago, Department of Radiation Oncology, Hospital La Luz, Madrid 28028, Spain
Felipe Couñago, Department of Radiation Oncology, Universidad Europea de Madrid, Madrid 28028, Spain
Author contributions: All authors have read and approve the final manuscript.
Conflict-of-interest statement: Authors declare no potential conflict of interests for this article.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article that was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/Licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Corresponding author: Castalia Fernández, MD, Staff Physician, Department of Radiation Oncology, GenesisCare Madrid, Emilio Vargas 16, Madrid 28043, Spain. castaliafer@gmail.com
Received: June 4, 2020
Peer-review started: June 4, 2020
First decision: October 6, 2020
Revised: October 9, 2020
Accepted: October 30, 2020
Article in press: October 30, 2020
Published online: December 24, 2020

Due to coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, there has been a major reallocation of resources that has impacted the treatment of many diseases, including cancer. The growing use of information and communication technologies (ICT), together with a new approach to work aimed at ensuring the safety of health care professionals and patients alike, has allowed us to maintain the quality of care while ensuring biosecurity. The application of ICT to health care (eHealth) aims to significantly improve the quality, access to, and effectiveness of medical care. In fact, the expanded use of ICT has been recognized as a key, cost-effective priority for health care by the World Health Organisation. The medical speciality of radiation oncology is closely linked to technology and as a consequence of coronavirus disease 2019, ICT has been widely employed by radiation oncologists worldwide, providing new opportunities for interaction among professionals, including telemedicine and e-learning, while also minimizing treatment interruptions. Future research should concentrate on this emerging paradigm, which offers new opportunities, including faster and more diverse exchange of scientific knowledge, organizational improvements, and more efficient workflows. Moreover, these efficiencies will allow professionals to dedicate more time to patient care, with a better work-life balance. In the present editorial, we discuss the opportunities provided by these digital tools, as well as barriers to their implementation, and a vision of the future.

Keywords: Radiation oncology, COVID-19, Telemedicine, Telehealth, Distance learning, Medical education, Patient care, Information technology, Social media

Core Tip: We believe that the current crisis is an opportunity to take advantage of the momentum towards the greater implementation of electronic health, to improve care through telemedicine, remote work, and e-learning. The emergence of information and communication technologies has transformed the speciality of radiation oncology into teleradiotherapy. Future research should focus on this emerging paradigm, which allows greater flexibility, thereby freeing up time for more efficient and humane patient care.