What are some strategies for keeping up with the ever-evolving health insurance changes patients bring to navigators? — Name withheld on request

This is not a job for any one person. The process needs to be addressed by several groups of caregivers working within the multidisciplinary team to provide the best care possible. Nurse navigators should know the basics of financial advocacy and what the most often utilized insurance plans cover for the patient cohort that they manage.

If a navigator is new to the role or unsure of coverage, they should talk with the oncology social workers within their team. But they can also get additional education by participating in on-line programs, such as the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) Boot Camp.

Most hospital systems utilize multiple in-patient and out-patient social workers to assist patients with financial issues, along with the hospital’s patient finance coordinators. However, some hospitals are currently looking into a new position: Oncology Financial Navigator. A member of the multidisciplinary team who has a clinical background and experience working with the financial needs of patients or someone with a business background who has been well-trained in assessing clinical needs as well as financial ones.

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The ideal candidate has an extensive knowledge of community resources and excellent interpersonal skills to effectively interact between the medical team, patient and family, and outside agencies that may be needed to manage the ongoing care required by the oncology diagnosis and treatment.