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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Feasibility study of multidisciplinary oncology rounds by videoconference for surgeons in remote locales

Anna Gagliardi1*, Andy Smith2, Vivek Goel3 and Denny DePetrillo4

Author Affiliations

1 Cancer Care Ontario, 620 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5G 2L7

2 University of Toronto and Toronto-Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre, 2075 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M4N 3M5

3 University of Toronto, Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, 2nd Floor, 27 King's College Circle, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 1A1

4 University of Toronto and Princess Margaret Hospital, 610 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5G 2M9

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2003, 3:7  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-3-7

Published: 19 June 2003



This study was undertaken to assess the feasibility of using videoconferencing to involve community-based surgeons in interactive, multidisciplinary oncology rounds so they may benefit from the type of community of practice that is usually only available in academic cancer centres.


An existing videoconference service provider with sites across Ontario was chosen and the series was accredited. Indirect needs assessment involved examining responses to a previously conducted survey of provincial surgeons; interviewing three cancer surgeons from different regions of Ontario; and by analyzing an online portfolio of self-directed learning projects. Direct needs assessment involved a survey of surgeons at videoconference-enabled sites. A surgical, medical and radiation oncologist plus a facilitator were scheduled to guide discussion for each session. A patient scenario developed by the discussants was distributed to participants one week prior to each session.


Direct and indirect needs assessment confirmed that breast cancer and colorectal cancer topics were of greatest importance to community surgeons. Six one-hour sessions were offered (two breast, two colorectal, one gynecologic and one lung cancer). A median of 22 physicians and a median of eight sites participated in each session. The majority of respondents were satisfied with the videoconference format, presenters and content. Many noted that discussion prompted reflection on practice and that current practice would change.


This pilot study demonstrated that it is possible to engage remote surgeons in multidisciplinary oncology rounds by videoconference. Continued assessment of videoconferencing is warranted but further research is required to develop frameworks by which to evaluate the benefits of telehealth initiatives.