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What is a patient navigator?

September 2013

Learn more about patient navigation in "A Patient Navigation Manual for Latino Audiences: The Redes En Acción Experience," a bilingual guidebook
Patient navigators are trained, culturally sensitive health care workers who provide support and guidance throughout the cancer care continuum. They help people navigate through the maze of doctors' offices, clinics, hospitals, outpatient centers, insurance and payment systems, patient-support organizations, and other components of the health care system. Services are designed to support timely delivery of quality standard cancer care and ensure that patients, survivors and families are satisfied with their encounters with the cancer care system.

Patient navigator activities designed to achieve these outcomes include:
  • Coordinating appointments with providers to ensure timely delivery of diagnostic and treatment services;
  • Maintaining communication with patients, survivors, families and the health care providers to monitor patient satisfaction with the cancer care experience;
  • Ensuring that appropriate medical records
    are available at scheduled appointments;
  • Arranging language translation or interpretation services;
  • Facilitating financial support and helping with paperwork;
  • Arranging transportation and/or child/elder care; and
  • Facilitating linkages to follow-up services.

Other navigator activities include community outreach, providing access to clinical trials and building partnerships with local agencies and groups (e.g. referrals to other services and/or cancer survivor support groups).

Learn more about patient navigation in "A Patient Navigation Manual for Latino Audiences: The Redes En Acción Experience," a bilingual guidebook that aims to motivate and guide health care providers across the nation to develop patient navigation services that can help Latino patients overcome barriers to timely health care. The manual outlines the step-by-step approach and resources to help providers and groups learn about and consider adding navigators. Visit redesenaccion.org/PatientNavigatorManual.

Source: National Cancer Institute Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities

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