The Regional Cancer Center at Cumberland Medical Center is continuing to improve the quality of care to its patients with the addition of a full-time radiation oncologist to serve the center. Dr. Zach Fowler is seeing patients at the center Monday through Friday.
Fowler is with East Tennessee Radiation Oncology, based in Knoxville. The practice serves several Thompson Cancer Survival Centers in East Tennessee with radiation oncology services and had been serving the CMC Regional Cancer Center for several years.
CMC entered into a management agreement with Thompson Cancer Survival Centers earlier in the year.
East Tennessee Radiation Oncology had been serving CMC with rotating staff, but Fowler said the doctors saw an opportunity to provide better care to its patients with a full-time physician in Crossville.
"We felt there was a lot of potential here," Fowler said, adding the group looked for a candidate but ultimately decided to staff the center itself.
Fowler was staffing a Sevierville cancer center, but chose to make the switch to Crossville.
"I'm excited," Fowler said of the move. "The team is excellent, and the administrative support is outstanding."
Fowler said having one physician staffing the Regional Cancer Center is going to positively impact patient care and put patients at ease.
"Over a six to seven week course of treatment, patients could have seen three or four different physicians," Fowler said. "In that situation, none have an entire picture."
Now, Fowler will be developing patient treatment plans, helping manage side effects and coordinate follow-up care. It will also help staff to have one physician.
"Referring physicians will also have one name to refer patients to and consult with," Fowler said.
The Regional Cancer Center is also adding new technology to better serve patients, Fowler said. A state-of-the-art radiation treatment planning system has been installed and the center will begin converting to fully electronic records next month.
"There's less handwriting so it's easier to read and is more accessible to all those needing to see a patient record," Fowler said.
Plans are to install a picture archive system that will allow for integration of diagnostic imaging in treatment imaging.
"Some tumors will show better on different types of diagnostic imaging," Fowler explained. "This system will allow us to overlay studies with our CT scans to see exactly where we need to treat. The system will even adjust for differences in patient position."
That will allow more targeted doses of radiation to better treat tumors and spare surrounding healthy tissue.
"I'm confident we'll be raising the standard of care in the months ahead," Fowler said. "And, I've already been surprised by the standard of care already offered."
Fowler studied electrical engineering at Georgia Tech. After five years in the field, he sought a career change.
"I wanted to help people and interact more with the public," Fowler said. The field also offered a great opportunity to blend his medical training with the technology training.
He returned to school, attending medical school at the University of Medicine and completed his internship and residency at Emory University in Atlanta. Following his training, he was an assistant professor at Emory with a special interest in lung cancer and other thoracic malignancies.
He is a member of the American Society of Radiation Oncology and the American Radium Society.
He makes his home in Knoxville with his wife, Sarah, and sons, Will and Luke.