Expanding Teleoncology at Rural Health Centers

The Challenge: Scaling Across the Country to Reach More of Those in Need

Despite the rapid rise in telehealth services spurred by COVID-19, many qualified federal facilities were still hesitant to adopt the teleoncology program, and many citizens who could have benefited from remotely delivered oncology care likely remained unaware that such services even existed. In passionate pursuit of its mandate to be accessible to all federal enrollees who need it, the agency sought Booz Allen’s help in continuing to expand its reach to more facilities and patients. 

The program had the technology and expertise in place to carry out its core, day-to-day mission of virtually connecting patients with the specialists they need, but the program required help with reinvigorating its effort to get set up at more of the remaining qualified-but-not-participating health centers all over the country, many of them located in rural and remote areas.

To get enrollment increasing again at the same time as it focused on delivering excellent care to those already participating, the agency brought in Booz Allen to assess and understand how the program could better connect with the patients and facilities not yet taking advantage of its services. 

The Approach: Capturing the Experiences of All Stakeholders

Through a mix of analyzing available data and conducting additional research, such as interviews and patient-care observations, a team of Booz Allen technology, healthcare, user experience, and human-centered design experts amassed a comprehensive understanding of how the program worked with geographically dispersed health facilities to deliver its mission. From this research, we built journey maps to capture key insights into the experiences and perspectives of all the program's main stakeholders: those who qualified and their families, local healthcare teams, remote cancer care providers, and the shared services providers supporting them.

The Solution: Bridging Understandings and Distances to Deliver Excellent Care

Starting with these insights, we helped the agency build and implement frameworks for reaching out to and signing up new participants, and connecting, communicating, and collaborating with stakeholders at participating health centers on a more consistent basis. In some cases, our research helped expedite the sign-up, set-up, and certification of the program at newly participating facilities, shrinking the process from months to weeks.

To help patients better understand the program and how it can ease and improve their cancer care journey, we developed a short, friendly, easily digestible guide to set expectations, answer common questions, and address common concerns. The guide is now routinely shared with potential program patients.

As a result of our collaboration, the program is now growing rapidly. Outreach efforts have transitioned to intake efforts, as new facilities have gone from needing to be courted, to jumping in line to participate.

Based on the success of this work, Booz Allen is now applying the same human-centered design-informed approaches to growing participation in the agency’s oncology clinical trials program, which connects cancer patients with promising new experimental treatments.


Learn more about how Booz Allen supports the federal government’s critical civil missions.