Patients, hospital systems and even insurance companies can benefit from a professional who can guide people through the complex health systems in the U.S. today. Patient navigation, which includes community health workers and clinically licensed navigators such as nurses and social work navigators, has begun to play a critical role in the continuum of care.
The role of the patient navigator may vary depending on the setting he/she is working in. According to the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators, “the heart of navigation is personalized care.” A navigator can provide personal assistance and support to patients, families, or caregivers. They can help overcome barriers within the health care system, or even some personal barriers such as cultural, financial, educational or even spiritual or psychosocial issues. The services of a navigator can be helpful from pre-diagnosis through all phases of the health care experience.
Patient navigator programs have been shown to improve clinical outcomes, especially for oncology patients. Patient navigators can help build relationships, solve problems and support patients and their families. They can help ensure patients receive culturally competent care that is compassionate and mindful of the patient’s safety and individual goals for treatment. Ask your doctor or hospital if you should have a patient navigator on your team. Learn more about patient navigators.