In an effort to expand and streamline patient access to its high-quality cancer care, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) has introduced MSK Direct, a unique program in which MSK collaborates with external employers to simplify how their employees can engage with the institution for initial or ongoing cancer care.
Each collaborative MSK Direct partnership is customized to the individual employer, as each organization requires different options to best suit its employees’ needs. After gaining an understanding from employers about what is most important to their workforce, MSK Direct offers a menu of options to serve that employee population as well as their family members. This includes access to initial evaluations or second opinions, the option to immediately begin cancer treatment, and support services such as counseling.
A cancer diagnosis is often accompanied by an overwhelming fear that can make assessing next steps and treatment options difficult for patients and their families, according to Wendy Perchick, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at MSK. Further, internal research at MSK has found a noticeable shift in mindset about treatment approach from pre- to post-diagnosis: Not only are patients suddenly grappling with their emotions, but new physical demands and logistical challenges can also greatly impact the decision-making process.
“Cancer care is extraordinarily difficult to go through, but accessing it in a time of distress shouldn’t be,” said Ms. Perchick. “We have found that many people are simply unaware that they already have access to MSK’s high-quality care and compassionate specialists through their existing insurance plans, so we envisioned MSK Direct as a way to communicate to those individuals that MSK will be there for them and their families when they need us most, whether for a first or second opinion or to begin immediate treatment.”
“MSK Direct is a prime example of our commitment to our mission, which includes making all aspects of our experience, care, and services more accessible, seamless, and beneficial to as many people as possible,” she added. “In the face of a cancer diagnosis, we want patients, their family members, and their employers to feel certain they are in caring and highly capable hands.”
MSK has already implemented MSK Direct through partnerships with six employers, including CBS Corporation and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. There is no cost associated with the program, as it is built upon an organization’s existing payer arrangements.
“MSK Direct has proven to be an incredibly valuable resource for CBS employees whose lives have been impacted by cancer,” said Stephen Mirante, Executive Vice President of Human Resources at CBS Corporation. “The ability to collaborate with a cancer center of this stature and with this level of expertise gives our people tremendous peace of mind, so they can focus on healing themselves or taking care of their loved ones while balancing all the other demands of their lives.”
MSK is a leader in treating all cancers, including those most frequently diagnosed: breast, lung, prostate, and colorectal. Researchers at MSK are also pioneering advances in precision medicine, immunotherapy, and other innovative, promising therapies. Patients benefit greatly from the fact that all MSK physicians, including radiologists and pathologists, are subspecialized, focusing on single disease sites.
“All of our physicians and scientists are singularly focused on furthering our scientific understanding of cancer and advancing the most promising treatments for the disease, so we encourage patients to seek care at a dedicated cancer center such as MSK as soon as they are diagnosed, rather than as a last resort when other options have failed,” said Jose Baselga, MD, PhD, Physician-in-Chief and Chief Medical Officer at MSK. “It is our hope that MSK Direct will help patients access their best treatment options early, so they can have the best possible outcome.”
Employers who are interested in learning more about how MSK Direct can benefit their employees can visit https://www.mskcc.org/about/innovative-collaborations/msk-direct.