Following the release of the updated cancer survival rates from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), employers should be looking to update their current stance on cancer care and delivery by giving consideration to developing bespoke treatment pathways, according to Towers Watson, a leading global professional services company.

The consultancy, which advises companies on health and risk solutions for employees, highlights that with the updated evidence from the ONS that cancer survival rates are improving, employers should be thinking about their approach to cancer care provision in the workplace and the longer term implications that a stance brings.

Kevin Newman, head of Healthcare and Risk Consulting at Towers Watson, said: “Cancer can have a devastating human impact. Historically this would often have arisen as a result of the death of a loved one, but as we are seeing in these updated statistics, increasingly the impact is about the quality of life of cancer sufferers themselves, who are recovering better and living longer as new, more effective treatments become available.

“Given the cost implications that these newer, more effective treatments have and the human impact of cancer, employers should ensure their employees who need cancer care have the best options available. A bespoke treatment pathway will ensure the best clinical care and can provide support to families, whilst also helping to protect the sustainability of private medical provision as an employee benefit.

“In recent years it has been proven that some conditions, such as musculoskeletal and psychological conditions, are best treated via a bespoke treatment pathway. As we have seen in the NHS, such an approach can mean that the correct clinical diagnosis is reached quicker and that the duration of treatment is reduced, resulting in a positive clinical outcome whilst also having a positive impact on the financial management of the plan. We believe that it is only natural that cancer treatment also heads in this direction.”

The latest Towers Watson Global Medical Trends Survey shows that within five years most insurers expect cancer to be the top medical condition driving claims costs. According to the firm, many corporate healthcare schemes are beginning to increase prices as the increasing incidence of high-cost cancer claims (some now exceeding £100,000) starts to impact on future scheme funding.

Kevin Newman said: “Employers want to offer their employees the best treatment possible. Independent sector facilities may be keen to treat these patients but are often not equipped to give them the same levels of care. In the best interest of both parties, it is important to think about where patients can get the best care and have the best chances for full recovery.”