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Rural Health Information Hub

Patient Navigators

Patient navigators support patients and their families through treatment and care. They connect patients to community resources, provide education on health conditions, help to follow-up with providers, and guide patients across healthcare settings. Historically, patient navigators have supported patients with cancer, though patient navigation programs have expanded to focus on other populations.

Registered nurses can serve as navigators by making appointments for patients, explaining their healthcare treatment options, and providing guidance and advice. Social workers can serve as navigators by helping connect patients to needed social services. Patient navigators use care coordination strategies to engage people in HIV treatment in rural communities. Patient navigators can also play an important role in reducing health disparities for racial and ethnic minorities and underserved populations.

Resources to Learn More

Patient Navigation: An Update on the State of the Science
This paper provides an updated literature review on state of the science of patient navigation.
Author(s): Paskett, E.D., Harrop, J.P., & Wells, K.J.
Citation: CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians
Date: 6/2011

The Boston Medical Center Patient Navigation Toolkit
A three-volume toolkit designed to plan and implement a Patient Navigation program. The BMC Toolkit offers case studies, tools, and resources from cancer care navigation that can be applied by program planners, supervisors of navigators, and patient navigators.
Organization(s): Boston Medical Center, Avon Foundation for Women
Date: 12/2012

Colorado Patient Navigator Training
Provides a full curriculum for building patient navigator skills and knowledge, including workshops, online courses, online tutorials, and special topics webinars.
Organization(s): Patient Navigator Training Collaborative

Grantee Patient Navigator Programs
Provides links to detailed descriptions of six patient navigator programs funded through the National Cancer Institute's Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities Patient Navigator Program.
Organization(s): National Cancer Institute of Health

Patient Navigation Resources & Tools for the Multidisciplinary Team
Provides resources for implementing comprehensive patient navigator programs at community cancer centers, including assessment tools, navigator job descriptions, and standard operating procedures (SOPs).
Organization(s): Association of Community Cancer Centers