Dr. William Barrett embodies the notion of “doing good, together.”
However, he started by “doing good” on his own when he rented an office space in Norwood where he could see cancer patients on the weekends, offering them second opinions at no charge.
Barrett, professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Cincinnati and co-director of the UC Cancer Institute, got this idea after determining that some cancer patients could benefit from a second opinion. Barrett didn’t want insurance, lack of insurance, or out-of-pocket costs to be a barrier to getting premium oncology care. So, he offered his service free of charge, a practice that continues today and is anticipated to continue for the foreseeable future.
The service was so appreciated that in 2020, Barrett founded Cincinnati Cancer Advisors (CCA), which opened its doors only two months prior to the onset of COVID-19 in the U.S. Nevertheless, his team saw 229 patients that year. They expect to see 450 patients in 2022 — representing 40% compound annual growth since opening. They intend to stay on that trajectory until they reach the 1,200-patient range, which would represent between 10% and 15% of the estimated 11,000 people diagnosed with cancer in the Greater Cincinnati area each year.
“That 10% to 15% second opinion rate would put us more on par with other cities, like New York City, where second opinion rates tend to be higher and people are accustomed to having cancer centers of excellence in their backyard,” says CCA Executive Director Steve Abbott. “We want to bring Cincinnati into that zone.”
To that end, Cincinnati Cancer Foundation, Inc., which funds CCA’s operations, has joined with Kroger Health to launch an innovative new partnership. It’s designed to improve the health of Kroger Health’s 22,000-plus associates as well as improve outcomes for CCA patients.
At CCA, doctors spend two-plus hours face-to-face with each patient, giving them time to absorb and understand what they’re being told about their cancer diagnosis.
“When you’re newly diagnosed with cancer, how in the world are you supposed to assimilate that kind of information in 15 to 20 minutes?” asks Abbott. “We slow the process down and give people as long as it takes. The whole idea is to help them understand their options.”
CCA’s clinical team will even do research on clinical trials that may be good matches. It’s just a different level of care — this patient-focused oncology practice can provide platinum-level consultative services at no charge thanks to the generous funding by CCF donors.
“A big part of why we feel strongly about what we do here is that we don’t have a financial incentive tied to it,” says Abbott. “We review patients’ records, talk to them, understand what is going on with their cases, and then call and talk to their doctors. They go back to their doctors for treatment, hopefully armed with a lot more information than what they came in with.”
Kroger Health is also sponsoring CCA’s “Medical Minute” podcast series, which is focused on distilling difficult-to-understand cancer terminology and concepts into everyday language for cancer patients. The podcast series, which launched on CCA’s website and YouTube channel (YouTube.com/c/CincinnatiCancerAdvisors) in November 2021, will also focus on Kroger Health’s “Food as Medicine” initiative. Designed to educate patients and Kroger shoppers on how to incorporate disease-fighting foods into a lifestyle that promotes better health, this initiative will also complement a future CCA disease-fighting culinary series.
“Cincinnati Cancer Advisors is absolutely delighted to have the support of Kroger Health,” says Barrett. “This will help CCA continue to grow its oncology practice, which is quickly becoming one of the most innovative and important cancer resources in the U.S.”
The engaging, entertaining and informative Medical Minute video podcast series, accessible from anywhere in the world, also features cancer survivors sharing their stories so that listeners can hear firsthand from patients who have come out on the triumphant side of battling cancer.
On Oct. 1, Kroger Health will be a sponsor of CCA’s first-in-the-area “Tri-State ASCO Direct Best of Oncology Highlights Conference.” Renowned oncologists and cancer researchers will present the new research findings and advancements in treating cancer and improving patient outcomes discussed at the annual June meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.
If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and are interested in getting a second opinion, free of charge, as you consider all treatment options, visit CincinnatiCancerAdvisors.org or call 513.731.2273 for more information. Cincinnati Cancer Advisors is located at 4805 Montgomery Road, Suite 130, Cincinnati, OH 45212.