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Interview with Ted Arrowsmith, MD from Tennessee Oncology


June 2021

Interview with Ted Arrowsmith, MD from Tennessee Oncology

We spoke with Dr. Ted Arrowsmith about the benefits of centrally managed regimens, the difference between OncoEMR® and hospital systems, the dream of robust decision support and more.

Joining us today From the Community is Ted Arrowsmith, a Medical Oncologist and the Executive Director of Clinical Informatics at Tennessee Oncology.

Flatiron: So your practice has been using OncoEMR® for more than 10 years. What was it like for you when you first started using OncoEMR®?

Ted: Well, we have a really interesting history that my previous practice were users of Altos for several years, and we switched over to ARIA when we merged into Tennessee Oncology. And then we had the pleasure of moving back onto OncoEMR®. So when we first went live, more than 10 years ago, we didn’t have a big IT team or pharmacy team. Someone sort of needed to do the work on the EMR, and that fell on me to do. 

Flatiron: Absolutely. What were the biggest challenges you were trying to solve through using OncoEMR®?

Ted: Today I think that the big struggles are the things people come back to again and again. So that’s doing your notes efficiently, finding the data efficiently. Being able to order the right treatment at the right time, needing information to do that. It’s sort of the simple day-to-day efficiency things that folks are struggling with the most.

It’s sort of the simple day-to-day efficiency things that folks are struggling with the most.

Flatiron: What would you say about your relationship with Flatiron and how it’s been over the years? To be an OncoEMR® user for over 10 years is a pretty long relationship.

Ted: I think that a great thing about the relationship is there’s no one person who can do everything. But we’ve developed a really collegial relationship over time with folks at Flatiron. So we can reach out to whoever might be the person who's going to be able to help us with that. And if that person can’t help us, they can get us in touch with the right people.

Flatiron: Absolutely, it’s definitely a team-based effort. Would you say this is different from other experiences you’ve had?

Ted: I think sort of frankly, when I talk to doctors who are using hospital systems like Cerner or Epic for their everyday clinic seeing cancer patients, the difference between having a voice, having people to talk to, having the ability to have some input or at least have somebody hear what your issues are is so different than dealing with kind of a large, bureaucratic organization that probably doesn't care about the cancer clinic at all. And that bureaucracy is really focused on hospital billing rather than the care of our patients in the clinic.

Flatiron: Do you think OncoEMR® is the strongest product for community oncology? You can be completely honest!

Ted: I think we signed with a product literally called OncoEMR®. It’s a product designed, built and maintained for taking care of outpatients with cancer. There are lots of problems with it! I’m happy to discuss those and do so regularly. But at its core, the product and the company are focused on cancer care.

There are lots of problems with OncoEMR®! I’m happy to discuss those and do so regularly. But at its core, the product and the company are focused on cancer care.

Flatiron: For sure. OncoEMR® is definitely tailored to the problems of oncology.

Ted: Correct. It’s tailored to this problem set. And it’s a modern product—it's on the web, it's available from wherever you are, it’s easy to use from home without a VPN, all those types of things.

Flatiron: What’s something—a feature or product—that you would love to have five years from now?

Ted: In five years, I really hope that we’ll have robust decision support. There’s most of cancer care that’s profoundly human where we’re explaining to patients and their families what’s happening now and what’s going to happen. And there’s a human bond that will never be replaced by technology. But some of it is shifting through mountains of complex data, diagnosis, scans and particularly more and more genomics. 

And so that part is where technology should be able to really help us in trying to choose the best treatment for that patient at that time. And if you throw in the other big thing that's changing, which is the rise of value-based care, we may also want to be choosing the optimal treatment for the patient in terms of what is most valuable to that patient, whether it’s lower out-of-pocket costs or lower overall cost to the health system. I think those are things that ideally can be solved by technology. 

Flatiron: Absolutely, that would be fantastic. We’re really excited about launching Flatiron Assist™ to help with decision support.

One last question—will we be seeing you at OncoCloud Virtual this year?

Ted: I already planned a trip—hiking along the Rogue River in Oregon—for that time, but I'll be there for parts of it.

Flatiron: Great!