What They’re Watching: Debra Patt, MD, Texas Oncology

Debra Patt, MD, is a Vice President for Texas Oncology, where she directs public policy, academic affairs, and strategic initiatives for the practice. Patt is a practicing oncologist and an active leader in breast cancer research. She joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss caring for patients in rural areas.


Get the latest state-specific policy intelligence for the health care sector delivered to your inbox.


“I’m a vice president of Texas Oncology. We treat about half of Texans with cancer at 176 sites of service across the state. So, I think a lot about how we deliver cancer care across the state and how we can improve upon that.

So, we’ve launched a telemedicine program to try to provide patients in rural areas access to some of the cutting-edge treatments that they may have access to in well-developed areas, but not in rural areas. So, we’re watching telemedicine policy this session to try to understand if some of those services that patients can have, maybe they’ll have more access to in remote areas. [This] to some degree has to do with bandwidth in remote areas, and to some degree has to do with policy on telemedicine. As cancer care providers, we have cancer care in many remote areas and in big cities, but some unique services like neuro-oncology or some of our surgical oncologists and proton therapy are only in hubs. And so we rely on technology and integration of services to deliver cutting-edge treatment even to rural areas.”