Navigation Program Development

The American Cancer Society aims to implement navigation programs abroad through the BEACON Initiative.
Crystal Dugger, Assistant Vice President of Clinical Operations at Sarah Cannon, discusses effective implementation of a patient navigation program.
Community navigators help those with an unequal burden of cancer, which is often heaviest among racial/ethnic minorities, patients with lower socioeconomic status, and residents of rural areas who do not have equal access to healthcare systems and do not always receive timely, standard care when confronted with a cancer diagnosis.
Although the term “navigator” is still fairy new and its many definitions are still being established, a growing awareness of navigators and the substantial role they play in patient care has underlined the need for role delineation in the field.
According to Lillie Shockney, Program Director and Cofounder of AONN+, a silo mentality is an inward-looking mindset that commonly occurs in healthcare organizations. Individuals operating in this manner resist sharing information and resources with other people or departments within the organization and conclude that it is not their responsibility to coordinate their activities with peers or other groups.
Patient navigation has become essential for the care of the oncology patient in a complex healthcare environment; however, the term “navigation” has been used loosely to describe several functions of the role of a patient liaison, social worker, or registered nurse. A navigation program was created recently for patients who were newly diagnosed with breast cancer.
Elizabeth Whitley, PhD, RN, who presented “Leading and Administering a Patient Navigation Program” with Bonnie Miller, RN, BSN, OCN, FAAMA, reminded participants that patient navigators are not necessarily nurses but can include other health personnel.
According to data released by the National Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 11.7 million cancer survivors in the United States in 2007, and these numbers continue to grow.
Recognizing the value of psychological support throughout cancer survivorship and implementing worthwhile programs to address psychosocial needs of cancer survivors are increasingly important considerations in the development of a cancer survivorship program.

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