Howard S. Hochster, MD, FACP, on the Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic


The expert oncologist spoke with CancerNetwork® about the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on his practice and the impact it could have on medicine in general.

Howard S. Hochster, MD, FACP, associate director for Clinical Research and director of Gastrointestinal Oncology at Rutgers Cancer Institute, as well as director of Oncology Research for RWJBarnabas Health, spoke with CancerNetwork® about the impact that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had on his practice and the changes that may occur to medicine in general.

At Rutgers Cancer Institute, Hochster indicated that they are switching everyone who does not have to come in for treatment over to telemedicine visits, which he suggested have been effective thus far. Additionally, they have begun screening every patient and employee who enters the building to ensure the safety of everyone who must be treated within the facility.

“So far, we’re managing to more or less conduct business as usual, still at this date, as we consider cancer an essential service,” said Hochster. “We’re doing some cancer surgeries as well, they’re being prioritized by our chief surgical officer, but we are trying to maintain somewhat of a surgical schedule for patients who require cancer surgery, and we’re continuing on.”

However, Hochster noted that he believes this pandemic will change the way that “we do business.” Remote working for patient interactions and interpersonal interactions moving forward could likely become a regular part of medical practice. Though, there is also something to be said for in-person interactions with a patient, according to Hochster.

“There is still a big role for the physician interaction and the laying-on of hands and we should never forget that,” Hochster explained. “I honestly believe that before I start somebody on chemotherapy, I actually need to see them and evaluate them physically.” 


This segment comes from the CancerNetwork® portion of the MJH Life Sciences National Broadcast, airing daily on all MJH Life Sciences channels. 

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