Timothy Yeatman, MD, director of the Gibbs Cancer Center and president of Gibbs Research Institute at the Spartanburg, S.C., Regional Healthcare System, said during a telephone interview that his vision of building a center where function follows form is coming to fruition with the construction of a multistory facility that will support 10 multidisciplinary teams housed together by cancer site rather than by oncology specialty.
“We will have disease-focused floors that follow a patient-centered model of cancer care with doctors interacting in the clinic and facilitating more curbside consulting,” he said, citing as an example a melanoma team that includes a surgical oncologist, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, dermatologist, and plastic surgeon working together.
Yeatman said he was encouraging more medical oncologists to participate in clinical trials by equalizing payment for their time, and was seeing an increase in molecular testing in patients while asking the question “who should and should not be tested,” resulting in a testing approach based on the risk of recurrence of the disease.
He said that the Guardian Research Network — described as a health IT ecosystem — has been a growing network of networks, and now includes more than 80 hospitals from about half-a-dozen systems across 11 states, including its first NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center member at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Guardian collects big data and aggregates patient clinical and molecular profiles into a centralized system that can provide accrual on demand for industry trials, according to Yeatman, who is also developing a federated clearing house for tissues, and an imaging archives.
He said that by going out into communities and networking them using the rule that big data amplifies the power of networking, he has been able to “spread the gospel about the hybrid academic-community cancer center concept.”
“I’ve discovered closet academicians [in community cancer settings] who always wanted to participate in research and never knew how, and given the opportunity, want to participate,” he said.