The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the rapid adoption of virtual clinic processes and healthcare delivery. Herein, we examine the impact of virtualising genetics services at Canada’s largest cancer centre. A retrospective review was conducted to evaluate relevant metrics during the 12 weeks prior to and during virtual care, including referral and clinic volumes, patient wait times and genetic testing uptake. The number of appointments and new patients seen were maintained during virtual care. Likewise, there was a significant increase in the number of patients offered testing during virtual care who did not provide a blood sample (176/180 (97.7%) vs 180/243 (74.1%); p<0.001), and a longer median time from the date of pretest genetic counselling to the date a sample was given (0 vs 11 days; p<0.001). Referral volumes significantly decreased during virtual care (35 vs 22; p<0.001), which was accompanied by a decreased median wait time for first appointment (55 days vs 30 days; p<0.001). The rapid virtualisation of cancer genetic services allowed the genetics clinic to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic without compromising clinical volumes or access to genetic testing. There was a decrease in referral volumes and uptake of genetic testing, which may be attributable to pandemic-related clinical restrictions.
- genetic counseling
- genetic testing
- human genetics
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Contributors MLN: conceptualisation; data curation; formal analysis; investigation; methodology; project administration; visualisation; writing (original draft, review, editing). JM: conceptualisation; data curation; formal analysis; investigation; methodology; project administration; visualisation; writing (review, editing). SRA: conceptualisation; supervision; writing (review, editing). BG: conceptualisation; methodology; writing (review, editing). BO: investigation; writing (review, editing). ET: conceptualisation; writing (review, editing). JM: conceptualisation; data curation; formal analysis; methodology; writing (review, editing). RHK: conceptualisation; funding acquisition; methodology; supervision; writing (review, editing).
Funding This manuscript was made possible through the support of The Bhalwani Family Charitable Foundation to RHK.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Ethics approval This study has been approved by the University Health Network (UHN) Research Ethics Board (PMH-UHN REB 20–5428).
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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