Data obtained from these surveys not only assess patient satisfaction, but identify opportunities to refine the health care delivery process. A market-oriented approach measures the impact of the patient navigator on the potential to influence patient volume. The popularity of patient navigators has the potential to influence patients to initiate their care at an institution with a patient navigator versus one without.
The services of a patient navigator are becoming increasingly necessary to coordinate the multidisciplinary providers and complexity of care across the disease trajectory inherent in cancer treatment.3 The most essential role of patient navigation is to assure that a patient with a suspicious cancer-related finding receives a timely diagnosis and treatment.4 Patient navigator programs can increase cancer screening and adherence to diagnostic follow-up. These programs have successfully helped patients overcome communication, financial, and systemic barriers. They essentially act as a bridge between a complex and diverse medical culture and the patient’s culture, and help expedite diagnostic workup, initiate treatment, and improve participation in clinical trials.2,6,8
Oncology care is a complex entity, involving many disciplines as well as multiple treatment options from numerous specialties. Further studies are needed to define the role, establish credentials, quantify cost effectiveness, and evaluate the sustainability of navigation programs.3 However, patient navigation has shown the capacity to assist patients through the continuum of care while eliminating barriers to timely screening and diagnosis, improving health outcomes, and increasing patient and health care provider satisfaction. ONA
Rose Valentino is assistant director of nursing for the Upstate Cancer Center, SUNY Update Medical University, Syracuse, New York.
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