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Dr Jeff Patton Discusses COVID-19 Implications, Potential Takeaways at the Community Oncology Conference 2021


Jeff Patton, MD, CEO, OneOncology, and chairman of the board, Tennessee Oncology, discusses what influence COVID-19 will have on discussions at the Community Oncology Conference 2021, as well as takeaways he hopes audience members and participants gain from the conference.

Jeff Patton, MD, is the CEO at OneOncology and chairman of the board for Tennessee Oncology.


As last year’s Community Oncology Conference came during the first months of the pandemic, how will discussions at this year’s conference compare? And what implications of COVID-19 will be addressed?

The difference will be that we have a lot more evidence and a lot more science to base our discussions on, but I do want to call out that the very first session this year is an update on COVID-19, for very good reasons.

So, now that we have evidence, the incredible progress that has been made in how to protect our vulnerable patients—there will be an update on that. Remarkable speed of both development and deployment of vaccines, there'll be an update on that. So, I encourage everyone to attend that session.

The implications are that it's forced innovation and industries across the country, a lot of experts say that COVID-19 has probably accelerated their innovation anywhere from 5 to 10 years, and I think that's true for us. So, we're better at protecting vulnerable patients, we've learned about remote care with telemedicine, but not just tele. We're more about phone calls and we actually have secure texting at Tennessee Oncology.

So, there's a lot of opportunity to interact with our patients in a different way than just in person. Remote working was something that was new to a lot of us, and I think that's something that we’ll embrace going forward.

We also found out on the clinical trial side that recruiting and monitoring can be done virtually, and so I actually think that's something that will stay as an opportunity to do remotely. And I mentioned before that the advancements in vaccine development will help us prepare for the next pandemic, and there will be another pandemic. So, having this new mRNA technology will help us to accelerate vaccine development for future pandemics.

What are some takeaways that you hope participants and audience members gain from the 2021 Community Oncology conference?

This is about community oncology and so I hope we all come away with that we're in this together. We're all looking to succeed or fail, because of what we do together and we are the low-cost, high-quality providers and I think we need to get that message out more and more.

It's becoming heard, and at least in my mind, hospitals are our competitors. And so we need to get our message out that we do it about better, faster, better patient experience, and less expensive.

The other message that will be heard loud and clear is that PBMs [pharmacy benefit managers], health plans, and hospitals often extract more value than they deliver and that sounds harsh, but it's true. I think that'll be one of the take-home messages that COA has been saying for quite some time.

The last 2, our focus on patient care and patient experience are our key differentiators. We do it better. Our patients have a better experience than in hospitals and academic medical centers, but also we're more innovative and we have an entrepreneurial spirit that gives us an advantage. So, I couldn't be more bullish on community oncology and I couldn't be more proud to be affiliated with this conference and all of you in attendance, so thank you.

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