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November 2011 VOL 2, NO 6

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Original Research

Breast Nurse Navigator Role Impacts Cancer Patients and the Healthcare Team

Loril Garrett, BSN, RN, OCN, CBPN-IC, CBCN 

Objectives: To evaluate the impact of the breast nurse navigator (BNN) role on the breast cancer population served, physicians, and the multidisciplinary team.

Methods: The BNN met with patients who had a confirmed breast cancer diagnosis and followed them through treatment into survivorship. The BNN performed a needs-based assessment with each interaction resulting in individualized interventions throughout the care continuum. Satisfaction surveys were developed to measure service impact of the BNN program using a 5-point scale (5 highest, 1 lowest). All patients served (155) in the first 6 months of the program were surveyed. Patients rated the impact of the BNN role on addressing emotional needs, answering questions, providing explanations and education, helpfulness, availability of the BNN, and how well the BNN served as a point person for them. Members of the healthcare team also completed a satisfaction survey. They were queried about how well the BNN removed barriers to treatment, helped expedite appointments, coordinated care, involved the healthcare team, facilitated access to research, and provided patients with explanations about what to expect during their treatment. Open-ended questions were also part of the survey. Input was solicited from both patients and the members of the healthcare team on what was going well with the BNN role and if anything could be improved upon.

Results: The patient satisfaction scores were overwhelmingly positive about the impact of the BNN role on their care. The overall patient rating was 4.73, with a 46.5% survey return response rate. The healthcare team scores were also very positive, with an overall score of 4.5 and a 47% survey return response rate. Multiple positive comments were received from both patients (50) and the healthcare team (17) on the BNN role.

Conclusion: Breast cancer care, which is delivered by multiple providers over an extended period of time within an already fragmented healthcare system, has led to persistent gaps in the care process. The role of a BNN serves to bridge those gaps and assures that the quality of a patient’s care and experience is optimized in the process, which was demonstrated. Discussion: Increasing numbers of cancer treatment programs are employing the use of nurse navigators as a strategy to improve patient satisfaction, the efficiency of the care process, and adherence (NCONN, 2009). Breast cancer treatment and care can be improved by recognizing the value the nurse navigator role brings to the patient experience and enhancing that role (Korber et al, 2011).

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