Thoughts on Recent Patient Navigator Study

A new study suggests that patient navigators may be able to help steer women with breast cancer through what can be an intimidating treatment process. It is especially true for low income and minority populations as there are many disparities in care due to the endless barriers these women face to access care. Cancer programs that have navigators call these individuals “invaluable”.  In my role as an oncology nurse navigator I have attended medical appointments with patients and have been their voice in helping them communicate effectively with their health care providers. I have helped patient and families understand the maze of healthcare benefits available to them and also helped them access treatment for those who do not have coverage.  I use my clinical skills to help formulate for each patient an individual plan that will help them cope with their diagnosis.
Feedback is usually positive as mentioned above because medical providers notice that patients that have a oncology nurse navigator are managing their side effects better. These patients generally are more informed about their diagnosis and where and who to go to for assistance.
It is nice to see research being focused on proving the benefit of using a patient navigator to coordinate care. My question however is shouldn’t all oncology patients need to at least know about patient navigation programs that are available?  Those of you that have worked with a oncology nurse navigator what has been your experience?
Reference:
http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/early/2014/07/28/JCO.2013.53.6037
Marie Borsellino BSN RN OCN CBPN-C
Oncology Nurse Navigator

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