“If we can give our employees and their families the chance to get to the right place as quickly as possible, that is a positive experience and can help them get through a traumatic time in their lives,” says Stephen Mirante, executive vice president of human resources at CBS Corp.

CBS is one of the first companies to implement MSK Direct, a new program that seeks to simplify access to the world’s largest private cancer center. Although their insurance benefits have always included MSK as an in-network provider, many CBS employees and family members who suspect cancer seek a diagnosis from their primary care physicians and treatment from the specialists in each patient's referral network.

“Cancer is something that people don’t get to practice in advance, so they are likely to follow the momentum of whatever path they are on,” says Wendy Perchick, senior vice president of strategy and innovation for the cancer center.

Employers who have implemented MSK Direct educate their staffs that MSK can be the first place to call if they are concerned about possible cancer. Their employees are given a phone number that connects them to an MSK Direct care adviser, who is trained in disease triage and the options available at MSK.

The care adviser schedules the patient’s first appointment, gathers his or her medical records, greets the patient for the first appointment, and remains available as a contact throughout the patient’s diagnosis, treatment and survivorship.  

In addition to improving the patient experience, the program may streamline the process of getting an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan, Perchick says.

“The advantage of a place like MSK is starting out with the right diagnostics, which sets the stage for the best possible outcomes,” she says. “And for conditions like early prostate cancer, when you come to MSK, you are more likely to get on the right path, even when that path means no treatment.”

MSK Direct is offered at no cost to employers because the cancer center is already contracted with their insurance carriers.