Benefits of Patient Navigation
May 2019

Patient navigation is one-on-one engagement with a patient to facilitate timely access to care through identification of potential barriers that may limit the patient from receiving adequate healthcare.

Social determinants can create barriers to patient health care such as finances, transportation, health or insurance literacy, cultural and ethnic considerations, fear and anxiety, and childcare. Navigation can reduce barriers to care through focused oncology needs assessments and customized interventions that improve healthcare outcomes.

As identified by an NCI-funded Patient Navigation Research Program (PNRP), navigation can lead to an earlier cancer diagnosis; a faster time to the start of treatment; fewer patients lost to follow up; and the elimination of disparities by income or employment. Patient navigators are instrumental in reducing delays in cancer care as they assess short- and long-term needs and guide patients through the maze of available medical, social, emotional, family and financial resources as needed throughout the entire continuum of patient care.

Since the first navigation program began in the 1990s,  patient navigation in oncology has developed into an essential part of patient-centered care. The 2015 Commission on Cancer requirement for all cancer programs to have a navigation program to become accredited supports navigation as a key component of cancer care. According to Supportive Care in Cancer, “Studies have shown the efficacy of patient navigation in improving screening rates, increasing adherence to recommended treatment, and improving the timeliness of care after a screening abnormality.” (Establishing effective patient navigation programs in oncology, 2019)

Considering that patient navigator roles, responsibilities and case loads vary based on the patient population served,  a navigation program would be well-served to leverage digital technology for patient management, workflow tracking and documentation of care coordination.   CancerNAV, is a cloud-based application that supports patient engagement during the critical time between cancer diagnosis and initial clinical consult.  The streamlined workflow provides milestone tracking, addresses barriers to care, referrals, diagnostic workup, patient education, and interdisciplinary team communication with point-of-care data and real-time metrics.

Access to healthcare impacts a person’s overall physical, social and mental health status and quality of life. Read more about how navigation helps connect patients to timely treatment in Patient Navigation Proving Effective in Oncology at 


Lopez, Diego & Pratt-Chapman, Mandi & Rohan, Elizabeth & Sheldon, Lisa & Basen-Engquist, Karen & Kline, Ron & Shulman, Lawrence & Flores, Efren. (2019). Establishing effective patient navigation programs in oncology. Supportive Care in Cancer. 10.1007/s00520-019-04739-8.

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