April 17, 2020 — OneOncology, the national partnership of independent community oncologists, said today that enrolling patients in clinical trials at its partner practices has slightly increased in March and April just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit our communities hardest.
Clinical trial accruals in March and April have occurred at steady to slightly increased rate at OneOncology partner practices, while news outlets have reported that hundreds of clinical trials across the country have been suspended since March 1 because of the outbreak, especially at hospital-based settings, which are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
"Elective medical procedures have stopped, but caring for cancer patients isn't elective," said Jeff Patton, M.D., OneOncology's acting CEO and president of physician services. "Not only do community oncology centers remain open providing patients life-saving treatments, we also continue to provide clinical trials at a steady to increased rate. Our centers are continuing to fulfill our collective mission."
When the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) temporarily loosened its regulations to allow providers to be reimbursed for tele-health visits, the agency allowed researchers to keep some clinical trials open by evaluating and enrolling out-of-state patients.
"By loosening the regulations at both the federal and state levels, we were able to evaluate patients for eligibility in clinical trials that we otherwise couldn't because of state licensing requirements," said Natalie Dickson, M.D., chief medical officer at Tennessee Oncology and Chair of OneCouncil, the partnership's all-physician committee. "Now we're able to continue to provide access to these important clinical trials for new patients in other states."
OneOncology also cited that all 400 physicians at its partner practices are connected via a common technology platform, OneCommunity, as a reason for being able to enroll out of state patients efficiently for trials a physician otherwise might not know about.
"The physician to physician connectivity we're fostering through OneOncology is tremendous," said Lee Schwartzberg, M.D., OneOncology's chief medical officer. "From pathway development to getting patients enrolled into clinical trials as the pandemic continues, our physicians, researches and care teams' connection to each other and shared commitment to our patients is why our clinical trial initiatives can continue as trials in other healthcare settings are suspended."
For more information: http://www.oneoncology.com