BCBSM's New Cancer Support Program Instantly Connects Eligible Members with Personalized, 24/7 Support

Jake Newby

| 4 min read

Battling cancer can take a toll on a person’s physical body and their mental health.
Inevitably, there will be times where patients have questions, concerns, symptoms and side effects between appointments and treatment. When these issues arise late at night or while on vacation, visiting a medical facility or contacting treating providers could be out of the question. That’s where Blue Cross’ new navigation program – Cancer Support – comes into play. The program is through OncoHealth®’s virtual platform, Iris.
OncoHealth®’s virtual platform, Iris.
Developed by oncologists and available at no additional cost to members of participating health plans, Iris is available 24/7 and instantly connects patients to cancer support resources. Those who are eligible include employees and family members on their plan who are survivors, newly diagnosed, in treatment. A caregiver can also participate on behalf of the member if they choose. Users get access to Iris’ platform features at no cost and receive the support they need to help:
  • Close critical gaps in care.
  • Improve health outcomes.
  • Enhance quality of life while living with cancer.
  • Reduce barriers to care and link to community and financial resources.

Key features of Cancer Support through the Iris platform

Cancer experts: Symptoms and side effects can happen any time, so having access to cancer experts is important. Users can connect securely with a team of cancer-focused nurses and registered dietitians to ask questions and get additional guidance. This is another good example of how Blue Cross is activating whole-person health opportunities for its members.
Mental health support: With Cancer Support, participants can schedule appointments with a licensed therapist to address the emotional side of cancer. They can seek guidance on topics like ways to talk with family about their diagnosis, discussing return-to-work plans with their employer, fear of cancer recurrence and effective coping strategies.
Peer mentor community: People with cancer often want to talk with others with shared experiences. This peer mentor community feature allows users to select a peer mentor based on gender, age and cancer type, to find the best matched mentor for practical advice and support.
Educational information and additional resources: It can be overwhelming to research answers in between appointments and treatments; and available information may not always be reliable. In one convenient spot, users can access trustworthy, clinically approved articles, both live and recorded webinars and videos on a variety of topics.

How Cancer Support provides assistance for members of participating health plans

This program addresses the multifaceted challenges of cancer care that encompass physical and mental factors.
Here’s an example of the personalized support that participants can expect: A patient who enters information about their diagnosis and treatment into the Iris Oncology app can identify specific goals to help personalize their experience. Say the patient’s top priority is addressing side effects quickly. Once they select that priority, a call is prompted with an oncology nurse who then spends time getting to know the patient and learning about their cancer experience on a personal level. The nurse assesses physical symptoms, screens for distress, anxiety and depression, and works with the patient to help them follow their current care plan and provide reliable information, guidance and support along the way, all virtually at a patient’s fingertips.

Offering Cancer Support to employees benefits businesses

The Cancer Support program provides you with the opportunity to help your employees during a critical time of need. The program and its features do not replace or interfere with care from established care teams and doctors. Instead, Iris complements them by providing immediate access to additional information and educational resources that cancer patients often need between appointments and treatment, including coordinating with the patient’s treating oncologist, as needed. Other ways businesses may benefit by offering Cancer Support to their employees include:
  1. Potentially lower emergency room and hospitalization costs.
  2. Enhanced member experience.
  3. More engaged employees.
  4. Addresses social determinants of health.
Fully insured and individual plans will receive access to this program on Jan. 1, 2024. Self-funded plans can add it to their health plan to provide to their employees any time in 2024; however, there is a 90-day lead time to implement the program for self-funded customers.
Contact your Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan sales representative or agent today to learn more about Cancer Support.
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association