In an interview with Targeted Oncology™, Statish Shah, MD, the medical director of Gettysburg Cancer Center, discusses the OneOncology partnership in more detail and how it will benefit patients.
Gettysburg Cancer Center has joined OneOncology, allowing the community oncology center to expand services and clinical trial resources to its patients.
Small community cancer centers play an important role in cancer management, especially in small, rural areas, according to Statish Shah, MD. For many rural patients, larger cancer centers can be hours away, being a huge detriment to care and patient outcomes. Small cancer centers can help provide care closer to home, but many lack the resources needed for complete patient care.
In order to help expand an already robust clinical trial program, to help provided expanded provider benefits, and update equipment, Gettysburg Cancer Center has joined OneOncology. The partnership has granted the center access to OneR, OneOncology’s clinical trial resource.
In an interview with Targeted Oncology™, Shah, the medical director of Gettysburg Cancer Center, discusses the OneOncology partnership in more detail and how it will benefit patients.
TARGETED ONCOLOGY™: What are some challenges that you face serving people in Central Pennsylvania?
SHAH: We have been in practice for almost 30 years now. And initially, we had only medical oncology. And during the earlier time of my practice, for anything else they need, including imaging, and radiation treatment patients had to dry for almost 30 to 45 minutes. And when you have cancer, it's very difficult if you have to go every day. So, we as a community practice, about 16 years ago, I had a reason to bring everything under one umbrella. And we built the Gettysburg Cancer Center that has all the imaging modality including PET, CT, MRI, and also a radiation center. And now I think what's happening is that patients can come and have most of the things done in the same day. And in a community practice, I think it's easily visible versus a larger Institute where you have to go through a lot of hoops. Here, we can make an appointment for you and get everything done in one day. So, this goal and vision has really been successful. And we are looking forward to even expand this further to have other specialties as well as services that are not here locally that we can provide with the help of One Oncology.
How do you hope your partnership with OneOncology will help your practice and what are the key goals of this partnership?
The partnership is going to bring us the resources which we cannot as a community practice have such as if we want to expand further to provide a service that is not our level. One of the things is that our current radiation therapies facility has a machine that is 15-year-old and does not have some of the capability such as stereotactic radiotherapy, stereotactic radiosurgery. So, with the partnership with OneOncology, now I have a backup. With both investment providers and other resources, we'll be able to bring that in. I think that key and an important part is that we are in a small town. And sometimes it's difficult to recruit the physician staff. And this year, while we are working in the background, OneOncology was very, very helpful. And I was able to get one medical oncologist and one radiation oncologist recruited to start in the next 4 months. So that was very exciting for us. We have about 50 plus employees. And they will have some resources particularly, they look for the benefits and other things that we can provide as they would like to have it as an employee. And with the OneOncology platform, they have a large number of employees throughout the country. So, they will be able to help us in training their employees, providing better benefits. So, it's a win-win for both of us. So that's one side.
Then the other big thing that we are looking forward to working with them is in 2 areas. One is obviously we work very closely with our insurance. And it is not difficult, but it takes a time for us to contact them and getting updates and everything. This partnership will help us further down where they have the resources to talk to the nationwide insurance provider like Cigna, United, and all those. So, we can bring some of that expertise. The second area that is also critical, we are actually very much involved in clinical research. And we have a very good program. But OneOncology is also starting on a big scale called OneR. And that's going to bring us a lot of research, which is also as important when you have no other things to do for your cancer patients. And this will give us access to clinical trials that we can provide to our patients.
Can you explain how traditionally, you were referring patients to clinical trials? What is it about this new partnership that can help expand it for patients?
I was trained at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, and was involved in clinical research during my training. And subsequently, when I started a practice about 30 years ago, I actually was a part of one of the large clinical trial group called NASBO and ECOG. And I was able to bring a trial to a small facility like Gettysburg. And on that base, we have expanded to a level where we have now about 17 to 20 clinical trials that are active. Just few months ago, we were on ABC News. And the phase one trial we brought was the first one in the United States that we have done with this company and this particular drug. It was the first patient in the country at our center, as well as the first patient in the world, with this new drug. So, we were really excited about that part. Being able to offer initial trial to the patients is very, very critical and important for the patient care. We also have a phase one trial, that the first patient in the country will be starting next week. So, this is a really exciting thing for us as in clinical research, which is a very, very strong program that we have. And with the OneR, I think we are looking forward to having a great partnership where they will be able to even bring more, not just a trial, but along with the trial, you have a lot of other background work that you have to do. And I think this staff resource, particularly they are well trained in research, is very critical. And also, some of the trials that we can't bring because of the size of our practice, whereas OneR being nationwide, they will be able to work with a lot of pharmaceutical companies and drug development companies and bring those trials to us.
As a provider, for many, many years, it's very important that we develop a partnership with One Oncology, as they are in many states and practices, multiple locations, number of providers, and then I think the educational aspects as a provider, because every day there is some new things in oncology. So, having the resource of other providers who are part of one team and able to get their knowledge and intellectual discussions regarding patient care is I think, to be very, very helpful to provide care to the patience.