An insufficient number of radiation therapy personnel, including medical physicists, radiation oncologists is another key bottleneck to expanding access to radiation therapy. Fortunately, there are several ways in which radiation therapy technology companies can help address this critical challenge. One is to develop partnership programs taught by thought leaders and established world-renowned sites for peer-to-peer knowledge sharing. Such programs can help train additional personnel where they are most needed. Similarly, device manufacturers can deploy Clinical Application Specialists around the world to provide first-hand clinical expertise and experience that enables broader adoption and use of radiation therapy equipment and treatment options in additional clinical centers. It is also essential to develop multi-modal educational options, from in-person to fully digital programs, to facilitate learning regardless of where care providers are located. Finally, radiation therapy technology companies can establish and or support philanthropic organizations whose mission includes supporting research, peer-to-peer clinical training and other educational efforts to strengthen sustainable access to cancer care.
Infrastructure challenges also may pose a significant obstacle to operating and maintaining cutting-edge radiation therapy delivery systems. These challenges include space constraints within care centers, inconsistent or unreliable energy sources, and lack of trained technicians to repair/maintain equipment. Prioritizing development of radiation therapy delivery devices that provide safe and effective radiation therapy while operating efficiently in smaller care centers and resource-constrained settings is essential for broadening access to care. This may include devices that have smaller footprints, require less space to operate and have lower acquisition and utilization costs. Additionally, systems that reduce the time needed for each treatment slot may enable more patients to be treated each day, further increasing availability of radiation therapy. Device manufacturers should also leverage automated systems to perform remote diagnosis of radiation therapy systems, which can provide advance notification when parts need to be replaced and avoid unplanned equipment shutdowns and outages.
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Even when advanced radiation care may be available within a region or territory, community physicians and community hospitals may not be familiar with the latest advances in radiation therapy. This may lead to patients not being referred to other sites that may be able to offer them optimal treatment that may improve cancer outcomes. Device manufacturers can help address the challenge by partnering with advocacy groups, policy makers, industry peers and academia to improve educational outreach and increase funding for the latest innovations in radiation therapy.