Patient Navigation

Why Is Patient Navigation Important?

Many patients—especially the poor and older Americans—have trouble getting adequate cancer care because of barriers such as1,2:

  • Need for financial help, social support, or transportation
  • Lack of information
  • Gaps in care

These barriers may cause patients to miss follow-up appointments or delay cancer care until they are very sick. It is vital that patients receive continuous care from screening through diagnosis and treatment to ensure the best quality outcomes.

The Cancer Care Continuum1
The Cancer Care Continuum

The Importance of Navigation3

  • More accurately identifies barriers to care
  • Improves sharing of resources
  • Enhances continuity of care, which may result in improved outcomes
  • Improves quality of services
  • Increases patient satisfaction

Patient navigators are trained in these necessary skills and have the appropriate qualities—enthusiasm, an openness to learning, connectedness to the community and its culture, and a lot of energy—to act as compassionate, effective guides in bridging the gaps to help patients, their caregivers, and their families.4

1Freeman HP, Muth BJ, Kerner JF. Expanding access to cancer screening and clinical follow-up among the medically underserved. Cancer Pract. 1995;3:19-30.
2Alliance for Aging Research. Ageism: How Healthcare Fails the Elderly. Washington, DC: Alliance for Aging Research; 2003.
3Long Island College Hospital. Breast Health Navigator Program. In: HANYS Breast Cancer Demonstration Project®. Best Practices Strategy Guide. Rensselaer, NY: Healthcare Association of New York State; 2002.
4HANYS Breast Cancer Demonstration Project®. Breast Health Patient Navigator Program Resource Kit. Rensselaer, NY: Healthcare Association of New York State; 2002.