New Guide Gives Employers Tools To Support Employees With Cancer

Friday, December 06, 2013

A new guide developed by The National Business Group on Health and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network offers employers an online and interactive toolkit to help address the growing impact of cancer in the workplace.

“There are more cancer survivors in the workplace than ever before,” said Robert (Jake) Jacob, director of Health and Productivity at Unum, and a member of the advisory committee for this initiative. “There is a growing need for employers and benefit managers to have a comprehensive approach in supporting employees as they deal with cancer treatment and recovery, and this guide provides that.”

An Employer’s Guide to Cancer Treatment and Prevention is the first of its kind in the industry.

Cancer is a leading cause of disability claims for Unum each year. As a member of Unum’s Health and Productivity team, Mr. Jacob works closely with employers whose employees return to work after cancer treatment.

“Unum has done extensive research on the impact of cancer survivorship on employers,” said Mr. Jacob. “We have the knowledge and expertise to help employers support their workers through diagnosis and treatment, and help those employees return successfully to the workplace.”

Mr. Jacob’s recommendations for the guide focused on three key initiatives:

  • Return-to-work best practices – Recovery and return to work play a particularly significant role for cancer patients. In fact, Mr. Jacob says, most people who have been diagnosed with cancer are very motivated to get back to work because it helps create a sense of control at a time when people often feel understandably overwhelmed.   A successful return-to-work strategy requires a collaborative approach among short term disability case managers, an employee’s supervisor and HR  representatives. This ensures the employee is getting the support they need to resume work in a safe and productive manner.
  •  Expertise of disability benefit specialists, and clinical and vocational resources – Cancer patients experience a wide range of side effects from treatment, including fatigue and cognitive issues that are the result of “chemo-brain.” Short term disability case managers should have the training needed to understand the employee’s overall health condition in order to provide the necessary support and accommodations the employee may need as they transition back to work. 
  • Short term disability and employee assistance program coordination – Coordination with employee assistance programs is critical to ensure effective management of employees on disability leave.

“For employers, the financial, emotional and productivity burden of cancer in the workplace is high,” said Helen Darling, president and CEO of the National Business Group on Health. “With significant gains in cancer survival rates and most cancer survivors staying at work during their treatment or returning to work after their treatment, employers need a comprehensive benefits plan to ensure that their current strategies to address cancer in the workplace complement the needs of their employees. That’s one of the main reasons we launched this project with NCCN – to help employers meet this growing challenge.”

Mr. Jacob was one of 35 members of the advisory committee for this effort. Other participants included benefit managers, clinical cancer experts, medical directors, health plan and pharmaceutical representatives, health care consultants, disability managers, and EAP and health improvement professionals.

Although the project is wrapping up and the advisory committee is formally ending, committee members will continue to support the National Business Group on Health in promoting the guide.  There are also plans to enhance the guide to include strategies for managed care organizations, pharmacy benefit managers and consultants.


Tennessee Surgical Quality Collaborative Says It Saves 533 Lives, $75 Million in Three Years

A unique collaborative of Tennessee surgeons, hospitals, and insurers, established in 2008 to share data, compare results, and improve outcomes, said it came up with impressive results to the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) National Conference in New York City this week. Ten hospitals in the Tennessee Surgical Quality Collaborative ... (click for more)

Debra Chew: Women And Balancing The “Change Of Life”

My favorite act at the circus is the balancing act.  You know, the guy walking the tightrope, balancing each step he takes so that he doesn’t lose his equilibrium and come crashing down.  Sometimes life can make women feel like they are walking a tightrope and that the least change will take them off balance and they will come crashing down. Unfortunately, women walk ... (click for more)

House Approves Expansion Of Chattanooga Veterans Affairs Clinic

The House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday to authorize funding for a new lease and expanded Veterans Affairs clinic in Chattanooga. This veterans’ package has been approved by the House and Senate Conference Committee.  Rep. Chuck Fleischmann said, “I am proud to announce the legislation passed this afternoon will fund a new lease for a multi-specialty ... (click for more)

Cleveland City Council To Hold Special Meeting On Naming New City Judge

The Cleveland City Council will hold a special called meeting next Monday to consider an interim appointment of a city judge. It will be at 11:45 a.m. at the City Council’s regular meeting place in the Cleveland Municipal Building, 190 Church Street, NE. The council will also establish the process for application for city judge. Longtime City Judge Bill Moss died July ... (click for more)

Thankful For Senators Alexander And Corker's Support Of The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Fleet - And Response (2)

America’s national security at home and abroad is important to all of us.  So it is very important to recognize and thank our leaders when they show strong support for our military. That’s why I am writing to thank Senators Alexander and Corker for their continued commitment to our great state, our nation, and especially to our military.  Their support ensures that ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Scottsboro’s Pat Trammell

I got a warm feeling Tuesday when it was announced Pat Trammell will be among those in the inaugural class of the Jackson County (Ala.) Sports Hall of Fame. When the august group is enshrined at Scottsboro’s Goose Pond Civic Center on Nov. 1, most folks won’t even know who Pat Trammell was but I knew all about him in my very first year as a fledgling sports writer back in 1967 and, ... (click for more)