In an interview with Targeted Oncology, Q3 2023 Oncology Icons honoree, Daniel Efiom-Ekaha, MD, FACP, discussed his years of experience in community practice.
Daniel Efiom-Ekaha, MD, FACP, was driven to the field of oncology/hematology by a profound sense of compassion and empathy, as well as his investment in learning more about cutting-edge scientific advancements.
Over his decade-long career, Efiom-Ekaha,community-based hematologist/oncologist at Cancer Care Associates of York, has seen a variety of new advances and developments for patients with cancer. From what was once limited, the field has emerged with groundbreaking therapies like targeted treatments and immunotherapy.
For Efiom-Ekaha, the core of his practice remains the desire to build connections with patients and caregivers. As a dedicated community oncologist, Efiom-Ekaha is committed to facing challenges in delivering state-of-the-art care while ensuring accessibility and convenience for patients. Not only does he place an emphasis on collaboration within the community setting but also with academic institutions and larger centers. With this, he remains optimistic they will be able to navigate the complexities of cancer care effectively.
“With building partnerships and all the collaborative efforts that have been in place, community physicians are able to achieve goals and deliver these goals very successfully. I think there's joy in building those human connections with patients and their family, and seeing all the benefits and good outcomes,” Efiom-Ekaha told Targeted OncologyTM in an interview.
In the interview, Efiom-Ekaha, a Q3 2023 Oncology Icons honoree, discussed his years of experience in community practice.
Targeted Oncology: What led you to explore oncology/hematology?
Efiom-Ekaha: For me, the decision to get into hematology/oncology is a very deeply personal one which I take to build deep connections and relationships with patients and their caregivers. I think oncology itself is rooted in compassion and empathy, and so it's that interface between compassion and empathy and delivering cutting-edge science. That's really the root of it and I enjoy what I do. I enjoy building connections with my patients and their caregivers, I enjoy understanding the disease, and I enjoy being able to deliver cutting-edge care and improving outcomes and results for my patients.
What can you tell me about your early years in oncology? What were your key goals?
I've been practicing in the field for over a decade. I am fortunate to have been able to see, through the last several years, concepts and ideas that we thought would make sense, being tested out in the bench with a basic science research, and over the years, transcend and come to fruition, in terms of what we're able to deliver and results and outcomes we're able to get for our patients. Early in my career, we had very limited drug options. We had concepts about treatments, such as targeted therapies and immunotherapy, but again, just being able to see all that translational science to go from the bench side to the bedside, and actually be able to deliver significant outcome improvements for my patients is very rewarding.
Can you discuss the practice you're currently at? What is the patient population there and what are some of the challenges faced?
I'm in community practice, and I think what we know is that most patients are receiving care in the community. The challenge as a community physician is, how do you ensure that you're delivering this state of the art care to patients in a safe and timely manner, but also adding that convenience that it is delivered right there at home so that patients don't have to travel out for these same exciting new opportunities? To achieve that as a community physician, you certainly have to stay up to date with all the current treatment paradigms that are available, but you also have to collaborate. Collaboration, not just between community physicians, but collaborations and partnerships with academic institutions, building affiliations with larger centers that are around you, and also collaborations through platforms where doctors can meet with thought leaders to converse and share ideas, overall, is certainly helpful.
What do you hope to achieve in your current role over the next few years?
The challenges that face community oncology are huge. Now, they're not insurmountable. I think these challenges are not unique to community oncologists, but again, cancer being a global health challenge has issues that we need to overcome. These are things like making sure that patients have access to care in the community. Doing this as a community physician requires building collaborative partnerships with organizations and collaborative partnerships with other institutions. You also have financial requirements because you need platforms to deliver this technology adoption so that you are able to view and understand results or steps to enhance patient care.
There's also a lot of administrative burden. That requires a lot of interaction with like-minded folks to sort of overcome. I think there are challenges, but again, not insurmountable collaboration with other folks will help us achieve these goals and deliver the care the way we want to.
Given your number of years in the field, what advice do you have for other oncologists in the community setting?
Community oncology is alive. Community oncology is thriving. It gives that nice balance of being able to deliver safe, effective, cutting-edge care to your patients on time, in the right setting, and in the convenience that is close to home or at home for these patients. With building partnerships and all the collaborative efforts that have been in place, community physicians are able to achieve goals and deliver these goals very successfully. I think there's joy in building those human connections with patients and their [families], and seeing all the benefits and good outcomes. It is certainly very rewarding.
What would you like to say to your co-honoree, Maen Hussein, MD, from Florida Cancer Specialists and Research Institute?
I think Maen Hussein, MD, is an excellent physician and I am honored to share this award with him. I really respect his work in the field and again, hopefully that in the future, we will all continue to collaborate and deliver excellent care.