Anita Moss, RN-BC
Tori Hazel, BSN, RN
At the Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma we understand that a diagnosis of Cancer is a life changing event.
We believe that at a time when you are fighting for your life you should not have to spend your time navigating and managing the complex healthcare system on your own. For just that reason we have Nurse/Patient Navigators on staff to assist patients through their cancer care journey.
A nurse/patient navigator essentially is a problem solver and a highly resourceful individual.
The navigator is trained to anticipate, address, and overcome barriers to care and to guide patients through the health care system during a very difficult time.
Nurse/patient navigators can help improve the quality of care patients receive, and nurse/patient navigation programs may help extend or even save patients’ lives. With the help of a nurse navigator, patients are:
- Guided through the complex treatment “maze”
- Assisted in filling out insurance paperwork or finding transportation to medical appointments
- Helped to identify local resources (including elder or child care)
- Given ideas about communicating effectively with health care professionals
- Encouraged and supported emotionally
The result is that patients with suspicious findings have a greater chance of receiving a quick and timely diagnosis and any necessary treatments. In addition, services may be better coordinated and more consistent, resulting in improved outcomes.
Goals of Nurse/Patient Navigation
The goals of nurse/patient navigation are:
- Save lives from cancer—Ensure that all patients who have a suspicious finding find resolution through more timely diagnosis and treatment.
- Eliminate barriers to care—Make sure that patients get to follow-up appointments and are aware of and can access needed services.
- Ensure timely delivery of services—Assist patients in moving through the health care system as needed in a timely manner.
Too often the positive gains made in finding cancer early are lost because of a lack of clinical follow-up by the patient. Nurse/patient navigators, while collaborating with other members of the cancer care team (eg, physicians, nurses, social workers), guide patients through the health care system and help to prevent and eliminate barriers to quality care and treatment.
Why Is Nurse/Patient Navigation Important?
Many patients have trouble getting adequate cancer care because of barriers such as:
- Need for financial help, social support, or transportation
- 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 Importance of Navigation
- 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
Nurse/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.
Nurse/Patient Navigation … Because no one should fight alone!