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Aetna’s New Cancer Support Center Connects Members to Personalized Information

April 10, 2019 | Health Insurance


“Take a deep breath.”

That’s how the section of Aetna’s digital oncology hub regarding “navigating treatment” begins – no medical terms or insurance jargon, just a simple reminder.

Dealing with cancer can be an overwhelming experience for patients, families and caregivers. The lack of centralized information about the disease and effective treatments can pose a real challenge both for patients, who must cope with their own personal cancer diagnosis and journey, and their families.

While there is information available online for those dealing with cancer, it can be confusing, contradictory or even downright dangerous when patients rely solely on “Dr. Google” for information.

Aetna is stepping into that information gap by providing members with a comprehensive, user-friendly resource for cancer treatment education and support. A digital oncology hub called the Cancer Support Center is now part of Aetna’s library of online-based member resources.

“Cancer diagnosis and treatment is often the most difficult and physically, mentally and financially stressful time in a person’s life,” said Dr. Roger Brito, senior medical director on the Aetna oncology solutions team. “We made it our mission to try to make that journey a little easier.”

The project was developed as an enterprise-wide initiative, involving medical and content experts from across Aetna who worked together to create easy-to-understand materials that are location-specific and catered to a member’s diagnosis. The information on the hub is structured in a way that reflects a holistic view of the cancer patient journey – from screening and prevention, to diagnosis, to treatment, recovery and beyond.

One of the key benefits of making this kind of information available online is that it can be easily updated to reflect new treatments, standards and best practices. As Dr. Brito points out, many medications used today weren’t even available just a few years ago, so the oncology hub can be continually revised to reflect the latest medical guidance.

“It’s just a constantly changing and evolving state,” he said. “The treatments in two to three years will likely be very different from those we use today.”

The Aetna team identified breast cancer as the type of cancer that affected the most members across all ages and backgrounds (with more than 120,000 claims per year) and chose to launch the hub around this topic. However, the Cancer Support Center will continue to evolve and grow as more information is added for different cancers, including ovarian and prostate cancers.

The support center has been an early success in terms of member and caregiver engagement, according to Dr. Brito, with many visitors coming back to the site repeatedly.

“The goal is to continue to expand the hub so that we can provide the right mix of resources and education,” said Dr. Brito. “We will continue to look for opportunities to support our members and their caregivers to help ease the challenges of this difficult journey.”