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Dr David R. Penberthy: Knowledge Gained at ASCO Can Transform Cancer Care


David R. Penberthy, MD, MBA, is medical director, Radiation Oncology, Bon Secours-Southside Medical Center in Petersburg, Virginia, and president of the Association of Community Cancer Centers for the 2022-2023 term.

Things that happen at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) transform care, nationally and globally, and providers must leverage the resources they have to improve patient care and deliver optimal care in patients' backyards, emphasized David R. Penberthy, MD, MBA, medical director, Radiation Oncology, Bon Secours-Southside Medical Center in Petersburg, Virginia, and president of the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) for the 2022-2023 term.


How can digital tools help achieve equity in clinical trials administration as set forth by the recent ASCO/ACCC recommendations?

We’ve recognized for a while now that there are some health disparities. The underserved populations are enrolling in clinical trials at a lower rate than other populations are, and we want to change that. And so technologies, artificial intelligence, decision support tools can help us match patients with clinical trials. But it goes beyond just matching patients with a clinical trial. I’ll give you an example.

In my clinic, we serve a population that has difficulty with some basic needs. Sometimes they don’t have transportation, sometimes they don’t have access. They live in areas that are relative food deserts. And so, how do you get somebody fed? How do you get somebody motivated to show up to a clinic at their appropriate time? It goes beyond just matching the disease process to a clinical trial. Absolutely, that’s important, but then a real-world issue is, how do you get the patient into the center? How do you get them to pay for that? And how do you get government agencies and payers, and all that, to recognize the importance of that? ACCC is a wonderful organization for helping to design systems.

The way I look at ACCC, it’s more of a how-to organization, “So, this is what we need to do.” And ACCC has such wide breadth. Approximately two-thirds of the oncology care in America is delivered by a member of ACCC. And so within that large group of organizations, somebody has oftentimes solved the issue that’s facing another facility. So we can tap into shared experience, in what I like to call the hive mind. If somebody has figured this out, in some small area in Arizona, well, we can apply that same technology or that same method into Virginia.

This is how we can leverage the resources that we have to improve patient care or at least deliver the most optimal patient care in their backyard.

What excites you about returning to ASCO?

I’m really excited to be at ASCO 2022 here in Chicago, because this is where the latest, greatest technologies, techniques, and treatments are being promoted for the effective delivery of cancer care. In addition to just the amount of information that’s coming forth, the opportunity to be with colleagues that are kind of like-minded, and the networking opportunities are just tremendous.

And we’re still in a global pandemic, so we still have to be mindful of all that and be kind of savvy to the issues of COVID. So I am happy that we’re seeing people be very careful and socially distancing some and wearing the masks when appropriate. But I’m just thrilled to be here, because things that happen at ASCO transform care throughout our nation and the world. It’s a pleasure to be a part of it. So thank you for having me.

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