Regulatory policy

NCCN Policy Summit speakers say flexibility in supporting and accommodating cancer patients and caregivers helps workplaces thrive

PR Newswire

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2022

The #NCCNPolicy Summit explores how adapting workplace culture to accommodate people with past or present cancer, and their caregivers, can result in benefits for employers and employees.

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) convened an oncology policy summit washington d.c. today on the theme of creating a workplace that includes support for people with cancer and their caregivers. The program, which also featured a virtual attendance option, looked at how workplace norms and expectations have changed in recent years, particularly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The conversation also looked at the current legal and political landscape, as well as how generational shifts and the growing number of cancer survivors in the workforce are driving cultural shifts around the world. United States.

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“We need a cooperative and flexible approach from employers, payers, providers and health systems to ensure high quality and equitable care for all our patients and their carers, meeting their needs with minimal disruption to their work and income,” said John SweetenhamMD, FRCP, FACP, FASCO, Chairman of the NCCN Board of Trustees and Professor of Medicine, Associate Director of Clinical Affairs, UT Southwestern Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center. “The pandemic has led to the transformation of virtual cancer care and a renewed interest in interventions such as home infusion of cancer treatment. As the home becomes the workplace of so many number of people since COVID, we need jobs and furloughs and regulatory policies that allow us to accompany patients to their homes.”

Panelist Rebecca V.NellisMember of Parliament, Director General, Cancer and Careers shared the results of a 2021 Cancer and Careers Survey / Harris Poll. It found that 74% of employed patients and survivors said working during treatment helped or helped them cope and 75% of patients and survivors surveyed said work helped or aided in their treatment and recovery.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about working after a cancer diagnosis,” Nellis explained. “Employers may think that people don’t want or can’t work, or that providing accommodations is expensive, and that housing one person means making changes for every employee. The truth is that working after a cancer diagnosis is more than possible. Access to workplace counseling and supportive policies makes it easier, but it is also a very individual decision with many factors to consider including treatment plan, needs and personal preferences, disclosure and confidentiality considerations, type of work, company and team culture, etc. “

“It’s a win-win when employers do the right thing for patients and their families, especially those dealing with cancer,” said Debbie WeirCEO, Cancer Support Community. “It is important that employers put the needs of their employees at the center of their benefit decisions. Limiting or restricting access to quality care in a timely manner to reduce coverage costs is not good for either the patient or for the company.”

Keynote speaker Lynn ZonakisBA, BSN, Director, Zonakis Consultingformer general manager of health strategy and resources for Delta Air Lines, also discussed the employer benefits of fostering a supportive atmosphere.

“Managing cancer and providing services that support employees and dependents through illness, associated leave, return to work, emotional health, survivorship and end of life is not only the right thing to do, but ultimately reduce costs,” says Zonakis.

“Business leaders at all levels should be empowered to support their workforce,” agreed Angela MysliwiecMD, Senior Medical Director, WellMed.

Inform employers and employees

Speakers explored some of the knowledge gaps and misunderstandings that can lead to bad experiences for everyone. Employers don’t always know what kind of support their employees need, and employees are often unaware of all the resources that are available to them.

“Employers and payers may not know how to answer their employees’ tough questions, or what they can do to direct them to trusted resources that support informed and sound decision-making,” said Warren Smedley, D.Sc. (candidate), MSHA, MSHQS, Vice President, The Kinetix Group. “NCCN has worked hard to develop the NCCN Employer Toolkit, which is a trusted source of information to help prioritize strategies and tactics that support the highest quality of care, as well as the use most responsible resource for employers who are potentially impacted by cancer diagnoses in their worker(s).

“It’s so important for people with cancer and their caregivers to understand all of their employment rights and available benefits, so they can make informed decisions about the best path forward,” said Joanna Fawzy Morales, Esq.CEO, Triage Cancer, who delivered another keynote address on the political landscape to support patients, survivors and carers at work. “While there are federal and state job protections, there is a significant lack of awareness of these protections. There are also loopholes in the law that patients and caregivers can fall into. There are many opportunities to fill these gaps to improve the quality of life of patients and their families and mitigate the financial toxicity of a cancer diagnosis.”

Equitable care

Many speakers focused on health equity issues and how they can relate to workplace practices.

“Exploring opportunities for the workplace to be more inclusive and accessible to all cancer patients, survivors and caregivers will help build trusting relationships, informed care and equity/health literacy awareness “, said Randy JonesPhD, RN, FAAN, Professor of Nursing and Associate Dean for Partner Development and Engagement, University of Virginia School of nursing. “There is a need for clinicians to provide simple, non-judgmental information with little or no medical jargon when interacting with patients, so that patients and caregivers can understand what is happening with their own or those of their healthcare. of their relatives. the diversity of the oncology workforce is important for increasing equity in the care that cancer patients receive, as well as potentially improving the patient-provider relationship.

Member of the panel Francois CastellowMSEd, President, Operations, Patient Advocate Foundation was part of a conversation about benefit design and the role of policy makers. Speakers also referenced data that shows increased productivity (and, ultimately, retention) when employees have access to quality care, testing, and treatment in a timely manner.

The summit featured Clifford GoodmanPhD, The Lewin Groupas a moderator. President and CEO of NCCN Robert W. CarlsonMDpresented the program while NCCN Senior Vice President, Chief Medical Officer Wu Jin KohMD provided some final thoughts.

The NCCN political program will hold its next summit on September 16, 2022, focused on reducing the burden of cancer through prevention and early detection. Visit for more information and join the conversation with the hashtag #NCCNPolicy.

About the Comprehensive National Cancer Network
The Comprehensive National Cancer Network® (NCCN®) is a non-profit alliance of leading cancer centers devoted to patient care, research and education. NCCN is dedicated to improving and facilitating quality, effective, equitable, and accessible cancer care so that all patients can live a better life. The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) provide transparent, evidence-based, expert consensus recommendations for cancer treatment, prevention, and support services; they are the recognized standard for clinical guidance and policy in cancer management and the most comprehensive and frequently updated clinical practice guidelines available in all fields of medicine. The NCCN Guidelines for Patients® provide expert information on cancer treatment to inform and empower patients and caregivers, with support from the NCCN Foundation®. The NCCN is also progressing continuing education, global initiatives, Politicsand researchcollaboration and publication in oncology. Visit for more information and follow NCCN on Facebook @NCCNorg, Instagram @NCCNorg and Twitter @NCCN.

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SOURCE Comprehensive National Cancer Control Network