Would a patient navigation tool be Web-based resources, printed materials, or both? Which member of the treatment team is the ideal person to introduce the resource to the patient and when? — Robert Mark Baldridge

Ideally, a patient navigation tool is easy for the patient to use, and the patient can easily understand the information provided. Many patients are savvy Internet users and have at least one device with which to access the Internet. Therefore, web-based resources can be helpful to them. Other advantages of web-based resources include the resource is more likely to be up-to-date each time the patient refers to it; the resource is usually available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; and a greater of selection resources may be available.

There are also web-based navigation tools specifically for navigators to utilize that allow them to monitor patient status and where patients are along the continuum of care. This documentation method usually also allows for summarization of therapies at the end of treatment and creation of an “End-of-Treatment Letter” and follow-up care plan that is shared with the patient and their primary care physicians.

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This tool then allows all who might be caring for the patient (now survivor) to correctly order needed follow up studies, etc, to do lifetime monitoring.

Printed materials, however, have a few advantages as well. They can be handed to the patient at the visit and easily reviewed in person. Patients can show their nurses which information is confusing to them and ask questions, and nurses can be more confident the patient is referring to reliable information. Disadvantages include the increased administrative work to maintain the supply of materials, as well as keeping the supply up-to-date.

The ideal time to introduce a patient navigation tool is at the first patient-education session with the patient’s nurse. Then, at each subsequent visit, the navigation tool can be reviewed, updated, and adjusted to the patient’s information needs.

As with many aspects of cancer care, an approach tailored to the patient’s needs is the most effective one. For many patients, a combination of both Web-based resources and printed materials would provide the information they need in a format that enables them to navigate their cancer journey. — The Editors