Clinical Topics & News

Creation of a National Virtual Tumor Board Through the National TeleOncology Service



There is unequal access to subspecialty oncology expertise across the Veterans Affairs (VA) network. To address this need, the VA established National TeleOncology (NTO), which provides multiple virtual services (asynchronous [electronic consult] and synchronous [phone, video to home, video to facility]) to over 20 VA sites. Beyond these care modalities, a virtual tumor board was conceived to provide a forum for multidisciplinary review of patient cases. We describe the creation of the first NTO virtual tumor board, encompassing malignant hematology diagnoses.


Tumor boards are considered a standard of care. While challenging to quantify nationally, multiple single institution experiences have established the importance of tumor boards across different measures. A panel of stakeholders were convened to discuss the creation of a virtual tumor board. Best practices and standard operating procedures were created based on guidance from relevant literature and internal VA experience. Participants from specialties including medical oncology, surgical oncology, radiology, pathology, transplant, and palliative care were engaged from eight different VA medical centers across the nation. On March 2, 2022, the initial tumor board was held allowing for synchronous virtual review of patient pathology and imaging. Thus far 6 tumor boards have been convened, reviewing 11 patients originating from 6 different VA sites.


A participant survey was conducted after 4 sessions, which indicated that all who completed the survey (n = 9) found the sessions beneficial or somewhat beneficial, and 55% found the sessions highly applicable to their practice. The most recent tumor board had 33 participants (physicians, nurses, advanced practice practitioners, and pharmacists).


The establishment of a national VA tumor board represents a novel approach to the review of oncology cases across the VA network. The goal of this tumor board is to leverage the diverse knowledge base that exists within the VA to deliver equitable care regardless of veteran location. Along with improving our general understanding of tumor board application, we believe that the NTO tumor board establishes a unique forum for additional tumor types, continued medical education opportunities, and the review of VA clinical trial opportunities.

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