August 2012 VOL 3, NO 4

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2012 Abstracts, AONN 2012 Third Annual Meeting Coverage

Patient Navigation: Blending Imaging and Oncology in Breast Cancer

Jeanne Chaivous, MSW 

Background: Patient navigation (PN) in cancer care refers to the individualized care provided to the breast cancer patients, families, and caregivers to ease multiple barriers and facilitate timely access to qualified medical and psychosocial care. The relatively new PN concept has become a healthcare buzzword as organizations strive to increase program efficiencies and system retention rates.

Objectives: Our 4 objectives were to optimize a valued patient-tailored PN service program, efficiently grow our imaging/oncology volumes, integrate our service lines, and fulfill our cancer program standards.

Methods: Our institution has regionalized our PN program within our 4 hospitals implementing the following 10 steps beginning at the imaging breast biopsy entry point. First we identify key stakeholders, patient groups, and current resources. Next we define the scope of the PN involvement, job description, necessary educational preparation, and expectations. We then identify and understand the current process. Also, we identify gaps, obstacles, and barriers to patients and families as well as track when patients fall out of the current system. We determine program scope, cost, and implementation strategy. Subsequently, we perform a needs assessment and develop a plan to bridge weaknesses in the current process. Furthermore, we develop a plan to address the weaknesses. Next, we implement strategies accordingly. We then develop program outcome measures based on identified gaps and national quality-of-care standards. Lastly, we evaluate.

Results: Our results reveal breast cancer patients to need an individualized matrix continuum of interdisciplinary care. The cookie-cutter approach is ineffective. Immediate onset of PN and timely treatment and follow-up remain pivotal in patient satisfaction, outcome measures, retained volumes, quality improvements, and cost-effectiveness.

Conclusions: Essentially the PN decreases denied insurance and hospitalizations by an average of 38% due to reduced treatment complications. In conclusion, PN continues to evolve as an influential component of breast cancer care.

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