Demonstrating the value of patient navigation programs is essential for sustaining these initiatives in community cancer centers, and nurses play a key role in working with administrators to define value metrics, track these measures, and report the results.

This conclusion emerged from a literature review and analysis of unpublished data from the [Washington] DC Citywide Patient Navigation Network. Mandi Pratt-Chapman, MA, associate director of community programs at The George Washington [University] Cancer Institute (GWCI) in Washington, DC, undertook the evaluation with Anne Willis, MA, director of the Division of Cancer Survivorship at GWCI. Their goal was to assess the value of patient navigation to community cancer centers and to suggest ways to measure patient navigation outcomes to justify this type of program as a critical component of cancer care.

The primary purpose of patient navigation is to eliminate barriers to timely care, such as communication problems, lack of information, and emotional challenges that patients may endure. This, in turn, will ultimately improve health outcomes. “We want to help others demonstrate the value of their patient navigation program to ensure patients continue to receive this much needed support,” explained Pratt-Chapman.

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The paper, published in Seminars in Oncology Nursing (2013;29[2]:141-148), cites earlier diagnosis and improved treatment adherence, savings costs from no-show appointments, and patient retention as the main benefits of a navigation program. The authors found that having a clear business plan helps to define appropriate return-on-investment measures, and they include information on how to calculate such returns for patient navigation programs.