Speaking to Becker’s ASC Review, Prizm Development President Bob Reznik likened the role navigators play at surgery centers to that of air traffic controllers at airports:
With back and neck problems, if the patient tells the RN he or she has weakness or numbness in a hand or foot — or worse, loss of control of bowel or bladder — that person needs to be seen immediately to prevent permanent paralysis of those nerves. It’s no different than an airport matching the inbound planes to the right runways. A person with serious herniated disc symptoms is better matched with a spine surgeon, while less serious strain is better managed by a physical medicine physician who can try non-surgical treatment options.
Mr. Reznik continues, pointing out that navigators (also known as clinical coordinators) will be increasingly important as the industry handles more procedures through bundled payment models rather than fee-for-service:
[I’ve] never had an organization regret bringing in a clinical coordinator. If you put a person like this in who is smart and well-trained, they will have an impact on the organization far beyond basic scheduling. Sadly, healthcare in the past has done poorly by putting the least trained, least knowledgeable person at the front lines. The future of healthcare — with bundled case rates for episodes of care — will require more expertise at the front end to ensure the patient flows through the system efficiently.