Oncology Series – The Need for Better Member Support

By Bill Frack, Chief Product Officer


The journey to treat cancer is arduous, complicated, and expensive. Cancer care is the highest spend category for high-cost claimants in many employers’ health plans. Effective cancer care is a function of three key variables:

  1. Timely discovery – early stage cancers are easier to address
  2. Right care team – deploying the right resources leads to better outcomes at lower cost
  3. Right support – providing additional member support helps the employee, whether they are a patient or caregiver, and their family through the process

In this third installment of the better cancer care series, we explore the need for specialized support and what that support looks like.

The Need for Better Member Support

“Cancer care is arduous” is a readily evident observation.

If I said, “Employees dealing with cancer need better support”, you would probably say “How so?”

Like any arduous journey, if you plan and train appropriately, the journey becomes more manageable. For example, mountain climbers train at altitude, map their approach, selectively acquire proper equipment, and consult with experts and references before embarking on a summit.

In contrast, no one signs up for cancer – they are thrust into cancer journeys, without the luxury to plan and “train”. Even as employees are managing the psychological impact of diagnosis, they must understand clinical information, schedule the long list of to-dos across multiple providers, be their own advocate, and monitor and react to treatment side effects. At the same time, they must manage the vagaries of living with cancer (e.g., communicating with and caring for friends and family who may be equally devastated, grieving their loss of health and identity, managing expenses, etc.)

Employers tend to believe that these needs are addressed by providers – but that is often not the case. Cancer care is centered around the oncologist, whose primary concern is to treat the cancer, and not the holistic needs of the patient.  According to Jasper Health, the primary challenge for forty-seven percent of cancer patients is improving health & quality of life. Fifty-five percent of patients find it difficult to find relevant support & information. A lack of dependable, centralized information leads patients to feel unprepared and overwhelmed.

Unfortunately, this gap in care is reinforced by the fact that cancer support services are not reimbursed by insurers. So, the employee is left to “climb the mountain” with whatever they can rapidly muster on their own.  

Filling the Gap

Fortunately for employer health plan managers, there are solution providers that fill these gaps to enable a more successful journey – focused on giving patients and caregivers holistic support around emotional wellness, nutrition, organizational tools and education. To support employees, the “right” way.

So, what does holistic cancer care include?

  • 24/7 access to a personal Care Coach with custom action plans addressing patient or caregiver goals and needs
  • managing symptoms and side effects
  • finding financial support resources
  • meeting peers on a similar journey
  • help with nutrition and physical wellness
  • improving emotional wellness coping skills
  • staying organized (meds, appts, symptom tracking)
  • attending appointments to ensure complete information sharing with providers and explaining care plan clearly

Now employers have valuable cancer support solutions that increase the attractiveness of benefits packages – and pay for themselves with substantial cost savings ROI through better outcomes and employees that feel well-supported.

Wellnecity has partnered with Jasper Health, a leading provider of cancer support services. To activate these services, Wellnecity clients simply have to say “Yes, I want this capability for my employees.” The implementation is pre-integrated and the mechanisms for informing members in need are already established.

At Wellnecity, our goal is to help self-insured employers create and manage high-performing health plans. To advance this, we identify solutions with observed success and proactively integrate to simplify deployment for our employer clients and their employees. Read more about our collaboration here.

For past insights, visit us at: https://wellnecity.com/insights