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Plus Pointers

Accurate recordkeeping is important for patient safety, quality of care, and system improvements. Grant-funded navigators use data to show the funder the impact of their work with patients.
Patients come into the healthcare system with various levels of health literacy, experience, and comfort with the professionals and systems in which they find themselves. Patient navigators work to assess the patient’s capacity to self-advocate and to make informed decisions regarding their care. Navigators also work behind the scenes with members of the health care team to educate them about each patient’s unique needs including their strengths as well as areas where they may need more assistance.
The patient navigator plays a vital role in assuring that the patient has access to the resources and services that they need to optimize their wellness. Ongoing support to encourage adherence to the agreed-upon treatment plan is also critical.
Patient navigation is still a new profession, so navigators often must clarify role boundaries with their colleagues and with patients. Navigators collaborate with colleagues to determine the best health care team member to answer patient questions.
Patient navigators are often the “go-to resource” person for patients and their loved ones. This relationship is based on trust and accessibility. Patients rely on navigators to provide timely, relevant, and accurate information.
Navigation programs can help with sustainability of the field by capturing core metrics on barriers identified, interventions to reduce barriers, numbers and types of patients served.
Patient navigators have a basic and ever-expanding knowledge of medical and cancer terminology. If a navigator does not have the knowledge necessary to answer patient questions, they may refer the patient to other members of the health care team.
All of the team members on the cancer care team are critical to help patients meet their treatment and survivorship goals. The patient navigator can help the patient understand all of the roles on the health care team and what the patient and their loved ones can expect from each person.
The work of patient navigators can be complex, chaotic, and at times, confusing. Cancer care is constantly evolving, which means that patient needs and challenges cannot always be solved easily. Patient navigators must be comfortable with ambiguity and should work to advocate for and utilize resources and services that best fit patient needs.
Patient navigators should work with colleagues to ensure a professional environment that fosters a community of respect, dignity, diversity, ethical integrity, and trust.
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