A recent Washington Post column titled “‘Navigators’ for cancer patients: A nice perk or something more?” challenged the value of patient navigators.
The writer states the following:
“Yet so far, research shows that, with the possible exception of poor people who typically don’t receive sufficient medical care, navigators have only a modest effect on how well patients do. There is little evidence that they save money. And research on patient satisfaction is mixed.”
Despite the author’s claim, there has already been substantial research showing the positive effects of patient navigation on patient care and an organization’s bottom line (examples of just a few of these studies can be found here, here, here, here and here), and even more research substantiating these benefits is published regularly.
But the critical value of patient navigation can perhaps be best supported by sharing some of the published stories about patients who have had their lives improved significantly through the services provided by patient navigators. Here are five of such stories.
Judith Nakamura, 50, wanted to see a surgeon to follow up on her treatment for breast cancer, but was told it would be a two-month wait. That’s when Colleen Sullivan-Moore stepped in. Colleen heads a team of nurse navigators at Presbyterian Healthcare Services in Albuquerque, N.M.
Over the course of Judith’s seven months of treatment, Colleen helped her understand the diagnosis and overcome fears. She was in the recovery room when Judith awoke after her surgeries. And Colleen directed Judith on where to buy a wig before she lost her hair to chemotherapy treatment.
Judith said, “[Colleen] was the one who answered all the questions I was trying to figure out and coordinated every step for me. She really helped get me through [the medical] system.”
Eventually, Colleen became “the only one I felt comfortable sharing my fears with, providing me with emotional support as well as information,” Judith said. Source: The Wall Street Journal
When Alona Bowman brought her five-year-old daughter Adrianna in for a hearing screening, there was no cause for concern. But then Adrianna failed the screening. The cause: a large, benign brain tumor, known as an acoustic neuroma. Not only did it pose an immediate threat to Adrianna’s basic life function, it could be deadly if not removed.
During Alona and her husband’s search for help after learning of their daughter’s condition, they were connected with Kristine Siwek, a patient navigator at the USC Acoustic Neuroma Center in Los Angeles.
Just one week after Adrianna started kindergarten, she underwent brain surgery performed by specialists from Keck Medicine of USC in Los Angeles. It was a success.
Alona was grateful for the help and compassion she received from non-surgical staff members suck as Kristine. Alona said, “It was a relief to have the patient navigator, who listened to my concerns and guided me through every step of the process. For once, I didn’t have to do all the work; someone was making sure the process was working.” Source: USC News
Yolanda Curiel, 50, has battled diabetes for many years. Managing her weight and medications was a losing battle until her physician referred her to Mary Lou Garcia, a patient navigator at River Valley Family Health Clinic in Olathe, Colo. Over 10 months, Garcia guided Curiel to a 17-pound weight loss and blood sugar readings in a safe range.
Curiel said, “Now I take much better care of myself. I’m so happy I met Mary Lou.” Source: U.S. News & World Report
In 2012, Leigh Ann, 42, found a lump in her breast. After receiving a mammogram at Deaconess Breast Center in Evansville, Ind., she was contacted by Robynn Working, the Deaconess Breast Center breast patient navigator, with the news that she had breast cancer. Robynn immediately started scheduling additional imaging and consults for Leigh Ann.
During the first week after the news, Leigh Ann said she saw and talked to Robynn a lot. Robynn handled all scheduling and related details, and provided Leigh Ann with education. Leigh Ann said, “My mind was going 100 miles per hour, so it was nice to have someone else ‘be in charge,’ and guide me through this fast and overwhelming process.”
Leigh Ann later transitioned from Robynn to Terri Kempf, oncology nurse navigator for breast cancer patients at Chancellor Center for Oncology in Newburgh, Ind. Leigh Ann said, “I have to say, these navigators were so helpful to me. They answered any question I had, supported me along the way, and were my single point of contact any time I had a worry or question.” Source: Deaconess Breast Center
This past July, Brenda Eichler, 50, found lumps in her breast and armpit. Breast cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. She started treatment at Rapid City Regional Hospital’s Cancer Care Center in Rapid City, S.D., with support from Shauna Fehrenbach, RN, a breast patient navigator at the center.
Shauna works with patients like Brenda, serving as a guide, providing resources and options, and empowering patients like Brenda to become actively involved in their care choices. Brenda said, “If I didn’t have Shauna here I’d be lost, because you’re seeing so many doctors, getting so much information, and you’re trying to figure out where you’re going and where you’ve been. She’s been invaluable to me.” Source: KOTATV.com