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Patient Navigation at the Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital

Patient navigation is used as a comprehensive term to describe the type of care available to people from the time their cancer is discovered, through diagnosis, surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, survivorship or end-of-life care. In other words, a Patient Navigation Program provides a means for cancer patients to "navigate" their way through the health care system.

Cancer patients and their families deserve quality care and services as they fight their disease. Patient navigation services can provide individualized support, care coordination, empowerment and advocacy to assure patients' needs are met. Patients often need one "contact" person or an identifiable team they can call when they have a problem or identify a need.

Patient Navigators wear many hats and play critical roles in patients' cancer care. Patient navigators are health care professionals whose primary focus is to assist cancer patients, caregivers and families in 'bridging the gaps' within the health care system and decreasing barriers to care by utilizing resources.

Patient Navigators become the central point of contact for coordinating communication with team members and ensure that cancer patients receive quality cancer care. Navigators facilitate interaction and communication with cancer patients, caregivers and family members, and have the appropriate skills and access within their organizations to provide education related to diagnosis, cancer treatments, palliative care and resources.

The Patient Navigator serves as a link to available resources for the patient. These resources include: connecting patients to social support services that require finding ways to pay for care, providing education and educational resources, and assisting with transportation, support groups and other areas of psychosocial needs. A Patient Navigator guides patients through the health care system and improves the quality of their care.

At the Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital, the Patient Navigator role is filled by an oncology nurse for breast cancer patients. For all other cancer types, the Patient Navigator role is filled by a social worker, according to disease type. The Geriatric Oncology Program is coordinated by a social worker who also serves as Patient Navigator for the high risk geriatric population.

For more information on Patient Navigators at the Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital, call 215-829-6466.

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