David Penberthy, MD, MBA, medical director of radiation oncology at Southside Regional Medical Center, discusses his theme as president-elect of the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) and what initiatives and discussions he looks forward to addressing over the next year.
My theme as president-elect of the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) is leveraging technology to transform cancer care delivery in the patient experience, with other topics such as reimbursement and consolidation being top-of-mind leading into next year’s ACCC Annual Meeting & Cancer Center Business Summit, said David Penberthy, MD, MBA, medical director of radiation oncology at Southside Regional Medical Center.
Your involvement with ACCC came around the same time the organization expanded to serve the radiation oncology space. Can you speak on progress made for this area and what you would like to see in your term as president?
Radiation oncology has been part of ACCC for a long time. ACCC has been around since 1974, and I found out that I'm the second radiation oncologist to serve as president. So, radiation oncology has kind of a deep and lengthy relationship with ACCC.
Right now, there are some very important topics that are being discussed in the radiation oncology space, and a lot of that has to do with the reimbursement model, alternative payment model, the RO APM [radiation oncology alternative payment model] as it's referred to, which was supposed to go into effect, I think it was initially in January of 2021, [but] that was delayed—it’s now delayed until January 2023. However, there's indication that that's also being looked at at the federal register level.
So, we'll see how that plays out. But everybody is making contingency plans to see how that's going to affect their programs. ACCC is very helpful in regards to that. ACCC also works alongside additional organizations such as American Society for Therapeutic Radiation Oncology, ASTRO, my specialty society, to see how they are advocating in that space as well. And so there are collaborative efforts to make legislators aware of what's going to happen and how their potential policies can impact access to care.
Were there any sessions or discussions at ACCC’s 48th Annual Meeting you would like to see further addressed going into next year’s meeting?
A lot of the meeting is structured just about the operations of cancer programs, both large and small, and so a lot of the smaller programs, mine included, are concerned about financial liability. So, there are sessions on consolidation within the industry: What's the best kind of strategy moving forward? Should we be part of the network? Should you be independent?
Everybody is concerned about reimbursement issues and want kind of a steady hand for reimbursement. So, ACCC can really help with being a leader and advocating for stable reimbursement systems. And the radiation oncology model, that was all discussed. Making a business case for supportive services that are non–revenue generating in oncology programs, I'd like to see that further expanded. There were lots of topics that were germane to most oncology programs.
What are your policy initiatives for ACCC in the next year?
One of the great advantages of being president of ACCC is we get to set a theme for the year. My theme is leveraging technology to transform cancer care delivery in the patient experience. And I think we have this really unique opportunity to kind of surveil the landscape and see what our colleagues are doing across the nation to improve on operational excellence in the patient experience.
So, those include things like AI [artificial intelligence]–driven data management tools, [and] clinical decision support tools to make sure that patients are getting the right treatment, at the right time, at the right location. It can also be simple things like patient satisfaction.
I know one oncology program that did away with a waiting room. And so people are using apps in their smartphones for registration, and instead of having kiosks where people have to go in, they can just kind of check in with their iPhone or what have you and access the system that way. So, we're going to look at all sorts of metrics along the technology spectrum to just do that—enhance cancer care delivery.
We're also looking at the home as a site of cancer care. That's becoming more important as everybody kind of transitioned to online virtual visits last year or over the course of the pandemic. I think that's going to continue. So, some patients are actually requesting and are very pleased with the possibility of limiting potential travel. I think we have an opportunity to look at all of these things and kind of promote best practices throughout our membership.