American Cancer Society (ACS) Patient Navigation Program: Who Are We Serving? What Services Are Provided?

October 2016 Vol 7, No 9

Objective: Since its inception in 2005, ACS patient navigators have reached over 500,000 patients at hospital sites across the country. The goal of this program is to reduce barriers to treatment for underserved populations. By 2010, ACS navigators provided demographic information on the number of patients served as well as some demographic and service activity information. In 2015, program reporting was standardized to align data collection across all programs. The objective of this project is to present a nationwide picture of the ACS navigation program, using newly standardized reporting.

Methods: Monthly reports are completed on a variety of metrics that are compiled and analyzed. Data examining characteristics of patients served, patient requests, and navigator actions were compiled for the period January 2015 to December 2015.

Results: Forty-seven thousand nineteen unique patients were served during 2015. Newly diagnosed patients represented 79% of this group and 34% were classified as underinsured or uninsured. Patients served were 60% Caucasian/white, 17% African American/black, and 10% Hispanic, with all other populations below 5%. Navigated patients represented over 25 types of cancer diagnoses, with breast (25%) being the most common, followed by lung (10%), colon/rectal (7%), and prostate (5%). Patient-requested services included information (typically met by providing educational materials or referrals to the National Cancer Information Center), assistance with transportation and/or lodging, financial assistance, and information about patient programs (ie, Look Good Feel Better). Consistent with our program focus of addressing barriers to treatment, typically for newly diagnosed patients, ACS patient navigators coded their 5 most frequent activities, which are planning/interviewing, identifying barriers, providing emotional support, assisting with access to services, and securing interpreter services.

Conclusion: Through standardization of reporting, the ACS patient navigation program has been able to more effectively measure who is being served by the program and what barriers to treatment are most frequently addressed. Future analyses have the capacity for more detailed reporting. These analyses will include evaluating ACS data congruence with growing professionalization and reporting metrics in the field of patient navigation. The goal remains addressing patient barriers to treatment and demonstrating return on investment to cancer centers.

Note: ACS patient navigation work was partially funded by a donation from AstraZeneca.

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Last modified: June 10, 2018

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