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National Study to Show Value of Patient Navigators in Cancer Care

The first-of-its-kind study will determine the value of patient navigators in cancer care in eight sites across the US.

National study will show the value of patient navigators in cancer care

Source: Thinkstock

By Jessica Kent

- The Academy of Oncology Nurse and Patient Navigators (AONN+) in collaboration with Chartis Oncology Solutions and the American Cancer Society will launch a national, multisite study to demonstrate the validity and reliability of patient navigators in cancer care.

The study will examine the value of ten navigation metrics, as well as provide insight into the challenges of navigation programs. The selected metrics include barriers to care; time from diagnosis to initial treatment; patients readmitted to the hospital at 30, 60, and 90 days; and patient satisfaction with care.

“By standardizing metrics under the AONN+ domains, navigators can measure the impact they have with patients from initial diagnosis to survivorship and end of life,” says AONN+'s Danelle Johnston, MSN, RN, ONN-CG, OCN, Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Director of Strategic Planning and Initiatives, and Co-Principal Investigator for the study.

“These metrics are designed to be used by all organizations and programs to demonstrate the efficacy and sustainability of their programs. They will also assist in measuring outmigration and retention of patients, downstream revenue within the system, increase in screening procedures, reduction in hospital readmissions, decrease in no-show rates, and increase in referrals to revenue-generating services within the organization.”

Chartis Oncology Solutions will provide data capture, management, and analytics reporting of the ten navigation metrics implemented at each study site.

“Working with national study participants and more broadly with navigation programs across the country, Chartis Oncology Solutions recognizes the challenges navigators face with collecting and reporting data in a standardized way,” says Kelley D. Simpson, MBA, Director, Chartis Oncology Solutions. 

“By extension, many are not leveraging the existing EHR data systems in place to complement the work they are doing.  Whether they face data entry, extraction or tracking hurdles, the national study will assist study sites with more easily accessing the data needed to populate the 10-core metrics for meaningful outcomes reporting. 

Previous research has shown the benefits of standardized metrics in patient navigation programs. In 2016, investigators evaluated Geisinger Health System’s standardized patient navigator program. The team found that patients were more likely to leave the hospital earlier in the day, and complete the discharge process more quickly, with a standardized discharge navigation program.

“The greatest obstacle to timely patient discharge is the lack of a standardized protocol specifically facilitating interdepartmental communication during the discharge process,” the study authors said.

“The findings of this study demonstrate that a standardized approach to discharge can improve hospital throughput and potentially lead to a reduction in errors and improved overall patient satisfaction. In the future, we plan to continue researching the effectiveness of the discharge navigation program.”

This new collaborative project will aim to further demonstrate the value of standardized patient navigation. Recruitment for the study began in March 2018, and by June eight sites had been selected and approved for participation. Data collection began at the eight locations on November 1 and will continue over the next six months.

“As they test these metrics, we will collect qualitative data on the barriers and challenges the pilot sites face in metrics implementation, data collection, analytics, and reporting,” says Lesley Watson, PhD, study Co-Principal Investigator and Principal Scientist in the Statistics and Evaluation Center at the American Cancer Society.

“These data will help us in our collaboration with AONN+ to produce an implementation toolkit, which other sites may use to support their efforts to track navigation metrics. By developing tools to facilitate the collection of metrics, we can contribute to the evidence-base around oncology navigation.”

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