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Dr. Debra Patt: Texas Oncology Has an “Easy Button” for Delivering Consistent Precision Oncology Care


To mark the beginning of Season 5 of the Precision Medicine Podcast, we are honored to welcome Dr. Debra Patt, Executive Vice President of Texas Oncology. As an oncologist and breast cancer specialist at one of the nation’s largest community cancer practices, Dr. Patt is on the frontlines of oncology care every day. She joins us to discuss how Texas Oncology uses clinical decision-support technologies and health economics and health services research (HEOR) to deliver more consistent precision oncology care to patients at over 200 locations across Texas. 

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Early in our discussion, Dr. Patt describes why and how she crafted her career to ensure a better therapeutic path for cancer patients. She says, “I had to pivot my career to make sure I stood at the intersection between the innovative therapies that we were discovering and the ways in which they get to patients.”

But applying precision medicine in clinical practice is complicated, a fact made clear in Dr. Patt’s December Journal of Precision Medicine article, Cost and Complexity Can Restrict Access to Life-Saving Precision Oncology. She explains that all patients with advanced cancer should have an analysis to understand therapeutic targets, yet across the country, many such patients aren’t being tested in accordance with guideline recommendations. Dr. Patt works tirelessly to be sure patients at Texas Oncology are given the best results.

She says, “We’ve really worked hard as an organization to set up an ‘easy button’ for clinicians to assess for these therapeutic targets or to identify the lock, if you will, so we can then use the keys of scientific discovery to give patients better outcomes.”

At Texas Oncology, this easy button is the Trapelo® decision-support platform, which they use to nudge providers to do genomic testing when appropriate. Dr. Patt’s team has also set up a quality standard through Trapelo, to ensure all patients with advanced cancer undergo an assessment that can reveal the potential therapeutic modalities to which they may respond. Texas Oncology also tracks performance as a quality metric to give feedback to its clinicians.

By implementing these systems, Dr. Patt says Texas Oncology is able to bring the latest and greatest precision medicine innovations to patients in their communities. “We want to give patients a great path to cancer care. And that’s not only controlling cancer or curing cancer but allowing patients to live where they are, so they can work at their jobs, and sleep in bed with their spouses, and pick up their kids from soccer practice and do all the things that allow them to live either cured or with a chronic disease.”

Dr. Patt’s passion of caring for people coupled with her unique blend of clinical and business acumen makes her one of the most inspiring guests we’ve had on the podcast. It’s a must-listen episode for those invested in bringing precision oncology breakthroughs to more patients.


Download the full transcript of the episode here (pdf).


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About Our Guest

Debra Patt, MD, PhD, MBA

Executive Vice President, Texas Oncology


As Executive Vice President of Texas Oncology, Dr. Patt directs public policy, academic affairs, and strategic initiatives. After completing fellowship training at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, she began clinical practice as a breast cancer expert at Texas Oncology. She simultaneously led Healthcare Informatics for US Oncology from 2008-2015.

Dr. Patt currently leads ASCOs JCO Clinical Cancer Informatics journal, a platform aimed at heightening awareness of clinical cancer informatics initiatives around the world. She also serves as a medical director at McKesson Specialty Health and The US Oncology Network where her team uses multiple integrated data assets to understand outcomes in cancer. Using these tools, her team can analyze large system of electronic health record data and other data assets and aggregate them to perform health economics and outcomes research. This Health Economics and Outreach Research (HEOR) work contributes to the advancement of oncology knowledge so we can learn more from each patient, not just the small percentage of patients enrolled in prospective clinical trials.

I have over a decade of experience in health economics and outcomes research ranging from linked claims analysis studies through SEER-Medicare, cancer registry analysis, private insurance claims data, and electronic health record data. I also have experience in the integration of these EHR data sources to inventory management, patient facing portals, claims data, and other data sources to integrate these tools to enhance patient care and practice efficiency. I am passionate about the innovation and change we are driving in cancer care through progress in cancer therapeutics and in clinical informatics. 


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