Kashyap Patel, MD, Elected President of Community Oncology Alliance

SAP Partners | <b>Community Oncology Alliance (COA)</b>

Kashyap Patel, MD, associate editor of Evidence-Based Oncology, a publication of The American Journal of Managed Care, will serve a 1-year term beginning in January.

The Community Oncology Alliance (COA), today announced that Kashyap Patel, MD, was elected president for a 1-year term beginning on January 1, 2021. Patel, who serves as associate editor of Evidence-Based Oncology™ (EBO™), a publication of The American Journal of Managed Care® (AJMC®), is a practicing medical oncologist and CEO of Carolina Blood and Cancer Care in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

COA is the only non-profit advocacy group dedicated to community oncology practices and their patients, and Patel is a longtime board member who also volunteers with many other cancer and cancer care quality organizations. Patel served as vice president of COA in 2020 under president Michael Diaz, MD, of Florida Cancer Specialists.

As Patel begins his term at the start of 2021, some of his top priorities will revolve around bringing the most cutting-edge, high-quality care to the community oncology setting, he told AJMC® in an interview.

“My first priority is going to be to identify the areas of health care disparities in oncology, particularly looking into precision medicine, diagnostic testing, and access to clinical trials,” he said. “So identify those areas, study those in detail and figure out ways in partnership with the labs and in partnership with the pharmaceutical industry to address that.”

The majority of cancer patients in the United States receive care in the community oncology setting, and COA works to support community oncologists and foster positive patient outcomes through policy reform initiatives, advocacy, and educating stakeholders in cancer care.

“We'll be looking at expanding the education on the biosimilar side, we'll be looking at incorporation of precision medicine, we'll be looking at how community oncologists can more proactively participate in clinical trials,” he said. It all goes back to providing the best care to every patient in every community.

Patel has led his practice in implementing multiple successful oncology payment pilots, and he has placed particular focus on racial and ethnic disparities, health care policy, and end of life care both in his advocacy and as associate editor of EBO. His recently published book, “Between Life and Death: From Despair to Hope,” chronicles real patients facing death with acceptance and understanding.

“At the end of the day, I think, how do we define patient-centered care?” Patel inquired. With new data from alternative payment plans like the Oncology Care Model, he said, it is now possible to truly begin defining “value” in value-based care.

Continuing to work with lawmakers to figure out how to reduce the cost of care is another priority of Patel’s, and that includes identifying local sites of care, incorporating biosimilars, and working with lawmakers on solutions that have been in discussion with congress and senators for some time.

“Affordable access to care at the lowest possible cost, with full transparency and keeping in mind the marginalized, underprivileged, voiceless people—whose voice we can be—is what my top priority is going to be,” he said.

In the same meeting, the board of directors announced that current secretary Miriam Atkins, MD, FACP, a practicing medical oncologist at Augusta Oncology in Georgia, will serve as vice president in 2021. EBO editorial board member Debra Patt, MD, PhD, MBA, a practicing medical oncologist and executive vice president of policy and strategic initiatives at Texas Oncology in Austin, Texas, will serve as secretary.

Patel noted the diversity of the incoming leadership. “When you look at our top leadership, there is inclusivity. I'm first generation Indian-American, my vice president is Miriam Atkins, who is a Black woman oncologist. And our secretary, Debra Patt, is a woman, as well,” he said. "We change the whole shape of leadership in the oncology space." As president, he also wants to encourage his female colleagues to be at the forefront.

COA also announced a new member of the board of directors. Emily Touloukian, DO, a practicing medical oncologist and president elect at Coastal Cancer Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, will be joining the board for a 3-year term beginning in January.

The full board of directors can be found on communityoncology.org and will be updated in 2021 to reflect the results of the election.