A recent report from U.S. News & World Report highlights how some of the key barriers to quality breast care are being addressed in top health care markets.
Many women do not have access to quality breast care for reasons varying from geography to socio-economic background, among others. Some patients may live a 10-hour drive away from the nearest breast center, making it tough to schedule appointments – plus the added barrier of accommodation.
Yet even having quality care in close proximity doesn’t mean it’s easy to get that care. Impoverished communities in large cities often do not have access to top medical centers, such as on the south side of Chicago, as highlighted in the report:
This was because there was an ‘inequitable geographic distribution of these providers. Quality of care was concentrated in high-volume academic centers, which are much less likely to serve the African-American and Hispanic population.’
But providers are beginning to address these issues. And a large part of that is nurse navigators. For example, navigators at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. provide transportation for women to receive mammograms as well as visit public housing to educate women concerning the importance of breast health and screening.
Clearly, the community aspect of health care is crucial to improving quality among underserved populations. Being able to associate a face with care (i.e. community navigators) improves trust and helps foster relationships that are at the heart of patient-centered care. And while they won’t be able to fix every barrier, navigators are a big part of providing better quality care to more women every day.