Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is already in-network for many major employers, but the specialty hospital’s new service, MSK Direct, aims to make sure it’s the first place employees and their family members turn to when faced with a cancer diagnosis.
The program, designed to guide people toward their first appointment at the hospital, launched at CBS Corp. in early 2016. The MSK Direct team is now on call for employees at six different organizations in the New York metro area, including Princeton University and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
MSK Direct can arrange for initial evaluations or second opinions, as well as cancer treatment and support services such as counseling.
“At each company, we try to respond to the unique needs of both the employer and employee population,” said Wendy Perchick, senior vice president of strategy and innovation at Memorial Sloan Kettering. “There are different levels of expertise and capabilities in navigating the health care environment, so we want to make sure we customize and respond.”
Once people make their way into the health system, they are able to access existing care-coordination services, she added.
Neither the companies nor their employees pay a fee to consult with MSK Direct.
“From their perspective, it’s a line to generate business for them, I’m sure,” said Stephen Mirante, executive vice president of human resources at CBS. “But from our perspective, it gets people to a quality facility sooner than they would have, and generates better outcomes. It’s good for us and it’s good for our employees.”
Nationally, there’s a trend of providers working more directly with employers as they take on more risk through value-based payments, said Laurel Pickering, president and chief executive of the Northeast Business Group on Health. “Part of why it’s not as common here is we don’t have a concentration of employees going to any one system or provider because there’s more choice,” she said.
Another local specialty hospital, the Hospital for Special Surgery, has adopted a similar approach over the past five or so years. HSS, specializing in orthopedics, has arrangements with about a dozen different companies. Its services range from providing educational materials to offering on-site physical therapy and physician visits.
“Employers are providing some element of insurance coverage for employees and influencing the decisions made by their employees through the coverage provided, so we work hard to make sure they know who we are and the value we provide,” said Louis Shapiro, the hospital’s president and chief executive.—C.L.