Dr. Kashyap Patel Tackles Oncology Treatment Disparities and Brings Light to the Darkest Areas of Cancer Care
For our 50th episode, we welcome Dr. Kashyap Patel, medical oncologist and CEO of Carolina Blood and Cancer Center, current president of the Community Oncology Alliance (COA), and author of a new book, Between Life and Death: From Despair to Hope. During our discussion, Dr. Patel explained the social determinants that can impact the quality of care and opportunity for precision medicine that patients—and specifically oncology patients—receive. For him, Covid-19 brought to light the impact that disparities in healthcare can have for all of us. He notes that one in three cancer deaths could be prevented if disparities didn't exist and that disparities result in 230B of excess expense.
Dr. Patel shares these numbers from the perspective of a highly trained oncologist and as a man who chose his career because of his great capacity for empathy. When Dr. Patel was just nine years old, he saw a movie about a man dying from lymphoma and cried about it for three days. Dr. Patel’s father comforted him with the knowledge that he might grow up to be an oncologist and work to cure cancer, and that’s exactly what Dr. Patel did. After three residencies in three different countries, the doctor is deeply invested in providing the highest quality care to all cancer patients regardless of economic, social, geographic or biological differences by targeting action in four specific areas, including screening, diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship.
Today, Dr. Patel uses his platform as a leader at COA, which is the most respected oncology group and conference outside of academia, to tackle issues of disparity, some of which he says are changeable but many of which are not. Dr. Patel believes screening is one of the most important areas to address, saying that even people with an over 20-year history of smoking are still not being screened for cancer.
He adds that lung cancer testing rates are half as frequent among minority populations, making access to biomarker testing another area of concern. Dr. Patel knows that there is not a one-size-fits all solution to increasing access life-extending targeted therapies and that it often comes from local solutions and local people.
This is why he is piloting a program called No One Left Alone (NOLA) in the congressional district five of South Carolina to bring the right care, including precision medicine, to patients rather than putting the burden on the patient to coordinate and travel for care.
Finally, Dr. Patel never lost the tender heart of his nine-year-old self and is a certified trainer for physicians in palliative and end-of-life care. He teaches other physicians how to answer the questions of dying patients such as, “What happens when I die?” “What happens to my loved ones and how will they cope?”, and “What happens to my body after that?" Dr. Patel says no one prepares doctors to have these conversations, but it is important to address, because, as he says, even he is walking towards that horizon, and he wants to make the most of his life and accept death with grace.
You won’t want to miss this very powerful 50th episode.
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About Our Guest
Kashyap Patel, MD
Founder and CEO of Carolina Blood and Cancer Care Associates
President for the Community Oncology Alliance
Medical Director for the Blue Cross BlueShield of South Carolina Board Member of the Centene Corporation (SC) Medical Director of the International Oncology Network
Dr. Patel is a full-time practicing medical oncologist, board certified in Hematology, Oncology, and Internal Medicine and president of the Community Oncology Alliance (COA). Dr. Patel also volunteers with many other leading national cancer and quality organizations. He is a consultant Medical Director for the Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina (BCBSS); a CAC member for DHHS (SC) and Palmetto GBA; and Medical Director of the International Oncology Network. Dr. Patel is past president of the South Carolina Oncology Society and has served as chairman of several committees in numerous South Carolina hospitals. He is chairman of the Biosimilars committee for the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC). He is also a member of the CPC committee for the ASCO. He has testified before the South Carolina State Senate and briefed countless members of the United States Congress and their staff on critical community oncology issues.
With extensive expertise in value-based care, Dr. Patel has successfully led multiple oncology payment pilots in his practice and consulted on others across the state and nation. He has published or presented more than 70 original articles and abstracts in journals and/or meetings (nationally and internationally). Through this work, Dr. Patel received research merit awards for cancer research, including ASCO merit awards during his fellowship.
Dr. Patel has a special interest in healthcare policy with a focus on racial and ethnic disparities and end-of-life care. An accomplished author, he recently published Between Life and Death: From Despair to Hope, a firsthand chronicle of real patients who have faced the end of life with understanding and acceptance. Dr. Patel is also Associate Editor-in-Chief of Evidence-Based Oncology, a publication of the American Journal of Managed Care. Dr. Patel is quoted by local and national media including NY Times and has appeared on CBS Morning News.
Dr. Patel also has extensive experience in revenue cycle management (RCM) in oncology, including co-founding a large RCM company that has grown from four employees to more than 1,000 employees today. He recently started a research enterprise, the Community Clinical Oncology Research Network (CCORN), to support the recruitment and increased participation of independent oncology practices in cancer clinical research.