Dr Lee Schwartzberg Discusses What to Expect at COA 2020

April 14, 2020

The 2020 Community Oncology Conference, hosted by the Community Oncology Alliance (COA), takes place virtually on April 23 and April 24. The American Journal of Managed Care® (AJMC®) is bringing you a series of previews so you can learn more about what you'll hear when you attend this virtual meeting. In this interview we're speaking with Lee Schwartzberg, MD, FACP, the chief medical director of West Cancer Center and the chief medical officer of OneOncology, and who is moderating a stakeholder panel discussion on genomic profiling in cancer.

This year, the 2020 Community Oncology Conference, hosted by the Community Oncology Alliance (COA), takes place virtually on April 23 and April 24. The American Journal of Managed Care® (AJMC®) is bringing you a series of previews so you can learn more about what you'll hear when you attend this virtual meeting. And in this interview we're speaking with Lee Schwartzberg, MD, FACP, who is the chief medical director of West Cancer Center and the chief medical officer of OneOncology. The conversation below, recorded for Managed Care Cast, has been lightly edited for clarity.

AJMC®: Can you tell me what you are looking forward to with this new virtual format and the new conference?

Dr Schwartzberg: The Community Oncology Alliance meeting is always one of the most looked forward to meetings of the year. It's an opportunity for community oncologists to learn about all the latest advances in the operations of taking care of patients in the community, as well as a clinical track and understand what the latest advances are in taking care of patients from a clinical perspective, and the plenary sessions, where we learn about what's happening at Washington in terms of new legislation. This is an election year, so it's a very important year, and obviously we're in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and learning how our practices are going to be different after this pandemic wanes somewhat, is going to be very, very interesting at the Community Oncology Alliance virtual meeting this year.

AJMC®: And on the second day of the conference, you're moderating a panel called Power and Potential of Genomic Profiling in Cancer. Can you give us a high-level overview of what people will learn when they attend that presentation?

Dr Schwartzberg: W're having a panel on genomics, and this is a very exciting area for me. I've been involved in this for several years. And I believe we've now reached an inflection point where genomic profiling of advanced cancer has become standard because we have many targeted therapies that we can use to treat our patients better. But we're still in an era where not everyone agrees with that, and sometimes the reimbursement strategies have lagged. The regulatory strategies are still evolving, and it's a very complicated area, so oncologists struggle to keep up with what's new in genomics. We've assembled a great panel, a very wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary panel, including patient advocates, people that are experts in reimbursement and legislative approaches to genomics, molecular pathologists, and an industry representative who will give the perspective of those developing targeted drugs that depend on a companion diagnostic that's genomic in nature, and also a practicing hematologist oncologist who can give our perspective on how this is really used in the community setting. How can you use these genomic tests to best effect? I think that we're going to focus on a number of areas that will be of great interest to our community oncologists, including access to care, how our patients can get reimbursed for these tests, how insurance companies are viewing them, how Medicare views them, what the change have been over time, understanding what the tests are really telling us and how best to use them, when to use them, what tests to order at a given time, what the limitations of the tests are as well, and also how best we can disseminate to our patients, and to our doctors actually, the results of a complex, comprehensive genomic profile, which may look at hundreds of genes, and requires curation on behalf of whoever is doing the test, typically a third-party laboratory with resources. But even then, there is a struggle to understand for the patient sitting in front of you what the best use of that information is, whether it is to find a targeted therapy that is already available, or to put a patient on a clinical trial that matches with the alteration found in the profile. Our goal for this panel is to bring useful information that can be used the next day and taking care of a patient to our providers who are listening to the panel.

AJMC®: So very hands on.

Dr Schwartzberg: Very hands on. Exactly.

AJMC®: And what else do you want healthcare professionals to know about this year's conference?

Dr Schwartzberg: This year's conference will be different because it's virtual. But I want to emphasize that COA has gone to great lengths to transform this conference into an interactive virtual meeting. We're all doing virtual meetings now. It's easy to get disengaged, frankly, from a virtual meeting. That will not be the case with the COA conference. The sessions are planned to have maximal impact, even watching it on a screen. And we're going to invite all of the people who are participating in this conference to interact with the speakers just as best we can to replicate, or, actually, to start a new mode of information exchange with our providers at COA this year.

AJMC®: Well, thank you so much for joining us, and I really look forward to the session in 2 weeks.

Dr Schwartzberg: Thank you, Allison.

To see or hear other previews and to read the COA coverage as it happens, visit our conference page.