March 16, 2022
3 minute read
The biggest issues facing members of the Association of Community Cancer Centers are the same as those facing all oncologists, according to the association’s new president, David R. Penberthy, MDMBA.
“Whether you’re in a community or an academic medical center, the science of oncology is really exploding, to the point where it’s a daunting task to keep up to date with everything that’s going on,” Penberthy told Healio afterward. being named president of the association during its annual meeting and cancer center business summit. “This is a difficult task for all oncologists, and I think the ACCC [Association of Community Cancer Centers] is uniquely positioned to facilitate best practices and promote effective ways to use the latest and greatest techniques and treatments to achieve favorable results nationwide.
Penberthy discussed his goals for his 2022-2023 term and elucidated his theme as President, “Leveraging Technology to Transform Cancer Care Delivery and Patient Experience.”
The role of technology
Penberthy, who earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech and an MD from Virginia Commonwealth University, was inspired by his interest in technology to pursue a career in radiation oncology. Consistent with this interest and aptitude, Penberthy plans to leverage the technology to advance the field of oncology.
“I want to look at the current situation in oncology across the country, look at our members and find out their struggles and pain points,” he said. “I think we can use technology to figure out how to solve these pain points. We can do this in many ways, big and small.
“State of the art care”
Penberthy’s career spanned 28 years, beginning with a surgical internship at Bethesda Naval Hospital, after which he served as a U.S. Navy Flight Surgeon with Fighter Squadron 101 in Oceana, Virginia. He then began his formal training as a radiation oncologist. Since then, he has been impressed by the rapid development of technology.
“We all walk around with these supercomputers in our pockets,” he said. “With the advent of artificial intelligence and clinical decision support, I believe that we will now enter an era where the latest technologies and techniques will not be siled in academic centers, but accessible throughout the world. countries, so that even the smallest oncology programs will be able to provide cutting-edge care in their communities. I want ACCC to help them do that.
Penberthy said he plans to focus ACCC’s efforts on finding technology-driven solutions, like AI and wearable devices, that allow clinicians to focus on patient care. He also intends to leverage technology to alleviate labor shortages and improve patient access by expanding the use of telemedicine in the delivery of cancer care.
Penberthy said he believes the technology can be used more to improve participation in clinical trials, the delivery of person-centered care, and care for underserved populations. To that end, the ACCC plans to host small virtual technology talks and conduct other outreach to members regarding their use of technology-enabled solutions. This information will be collected and disseminated as part of a portfolio of educational tools.
Other goals Penberthy plans to achieve include:
- use digital health data and tools to reduce health disparities;
- advocate for widespread access to digital tools and demand sufficient reimbursement for their use in the delivery of cancer care; and
- bringing together technology-driven changemakers to deliver solutions and imagine a future in which oncology leverages technology to improve the patient experience.
Penberthy is Medical Director of Radiation Oncology at Bon Secours, Southside Regional Medical Center (SRMC) in Petersburg, Virginia. He also served as Chair of the Cancer Committee at SRMC, where he led the oncology program through two accreditation surveys from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.
“ACCC does community oncology and academic oncology; it’s a good mix of all the multidisciplinary specialties of oncology,” Penberthy said. “I look forward to working with ACCC members to determine what their needs are and how we can promote and facilitate effective and optimal patient care.
For more information:
David R. Penberthy, MARYLAND, MBA, can be contacted at Virginia Radiation Oncology Associates, 210 Medical Park Blvd. #100, Petersburg, Virginia 23805.