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Six opportunities to get the most out of your patient navigation program

Navigation can make a big difference in guiding your patients through the complexity of cancer care, but many organizations struggle to define the navigator's role, measure productivity, and demonstrate navigation's impact on patients. Use the resources in this toolkit to get the most out of your navigation program.

Start by taking the Patient Navigation Assessment. This will help you identify your biggest opportunities for improvement.

Next, use those results to focus on the resources and best practices that map to your program's biggest opportunities. We've organized them into six steps for easy browsing. Each step includes focus areas with a featured resource and additional resources to help you strengthen your navigation program.

Opportunity 1: Define the program

Learn how three organizations used rigorous needs assessments—including mapping patient flow, evaluating physicians’ preferences, and understanding their community’s priorities—as the foundation for their navigation programs.

Additional resources to help you develop your program:

Review results from our Cancer Patient Experience Survey to understand which services cancer patients value most.

Additional resources to help you understand what your patients need:

Use our Navigation Metric Selection Picklist as a starting point to set your program's goals and metrics

Additional resource to help you set your goals and metrics:

Cancer programs—even those within the same system—often define navigation differently. This lack of standardization can make it difficult to ensure that all patients in your system are receiving the same level of care. See how OhioHealth has standardized navigation touchpoints across multiple sites of care.

Opportunity 2: Clarify the navigator role

Use our Navigator Responsibility Picklist to align patient navigators’ tasks with program objectives.

Additional resources to help you align the navigator role with your program's goals:

Provide navigators with robust training. For example, you can share two of our studies on best practices for providing comprehensive, holistic care with your navigators: Next-Generation Tumor Site Strategy, Volume II and Tumor Site Centers of Excellence.

Additional resources to help you provide robust training:

Opportunity 3: Secure support for your navigator program

Get buy-in from key stakeholders by calculating how much time and costs a non-clinical navigator can save your organization.

Additional resources to help you ensure key stakeholder buy-in:

Build relationships with other health care providers in your community by positioning navigators as referral coordinators. Learn how referral-driving navigators can be instrumental in developing relationships with referring physicians.

Additional resources to help you build relationships with other providers in the community:

Opportunity 4: Integrate navigation into the broader care team

Use this discussion guide with your team to both pinpoint opportunities to improve care coordination and brainstorm solutions.

Additional resources to help you improve care coordination:

Use the Care Team Responsibilities Audit to evaluate and make necessary changes to staff responsibilities.

Additional resources to help you distribute responsibilities:

Identify and manage patients’ biopsychosocial needs by standardizing distress screening and management processes across your cancer program

Additional resource to help you identify and manage patients' biopsychosocial needs:

  • Tactics for distress screening and management

Opportunity 5: Track your program's performance

Review survey data to learn how your peers evaluate their navigation programs and see which automated platforms other programs use.

Additional resources to help you assess your navigators:

Consider strategies to document navigators' impact on revenues, including revenues from patients attracted and retained, as a way to demonstrate the value of navigation.

Additional resources to help you demonstrate the value of navigation:

  • Navigation survey data that show what other programs are tracking

Opportunity 6: Optimize the navigator role

Consider existing navigator training programs to provide comprehensive, ongoing training.

Additional resource to help you provide training:

Discover how UNC used a time study to evaluate how nurse navigators spend their time and re-scope their role.

  • Why you should refine the navigator role and job description

Learn how UNC virtualized its cancer patient navigation program during Covid-19.

Focus your resources on patients with greatest acuity.

Additional resource to help you account for patient acuity:


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