David R. Penberthy, MD, MBA, 2022-2023 Association of Community Cancer Centers president, addresses technological advancements made during his presidency and how community oncology is working to ensure gains in health equity continue moving forward.
During his 2022-2023 term as president of the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC), David R. Penberthy, MD, MBA’s theme was “Leveraging Technology to Transform Cancer Care and the Patient Experience.”
In this interview from this year’s conference, which took place March 8-10 in Washington, DC, Penberthy, who is associate professor of radiation oncology, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, addresses technological advancements made during his presidency and how community oncology is working to ensure gains in health equity continue moving forward.
During your ACCC presidency, what were some of the most notable advances in patient-facing technologies that helped to advance health care equity?
We’ve noticed a lot of things that are happening in the technology space. Technology is a great leveler, but not everybody has access to it, and so we're working with payers, we're working with government agencies, to look at health equity and looking at how all these technologies can be broadly applied to everybody, not just the select few. We're working with both payers and government entities to ensure that that happens.
Moving forward, what should be priorities in this area, especially for patients who may lack the infrastructure to use that technology to their advantage?
The technology is becoming increasingly important to constituents all across the spectrum, from very-well-resourced individuals to lesser-resourced individuals, and the government has an effort for increasing broadband access, even in rural populations. So, again, I think recognizing that that is a continual issue is important.
We're also working with different stakeholders in the community to reach out to those that may have less familiarity with different technologies to try to bring them up to speed. The technologies are becoming important because they always have been, but right now, many cancer programs are facing workforce shortages and so we're leveraging that technologies to mitigate those workforce shortages. Some of those efforts include remote patient monitoring, for instance, the increased use of telehealth during the global health pandemic and the national health emergency. The National Health Emergency is being lifted, but we anticipate that those technologies that have increased people's ability to access the health care, even in underserved areas, will continue and we're working with the government agencies to ensure that that is made permanent