Patient Acuity: The Current Landscape of Accurately Assessing Patient Attributes

July 2019 Vol 10, No 7
Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, HON-ONN-CG
Editor-in-Chief, JONS; Co-Founder, AONN+; University Distinguished Service Professor of Breast Cancer, Administrative Director, The Johns Hopkins Breast Center; Director, Johns Hopkins Cancer Survivorship Programs; Professor of Surgery and Oncology, JHU School of Medicine; Co-Creator, Work Stride-Managing Cancer at Work

Dear Navigators, Social Workers, Administrators, and Clinical Staff,

The word “acuity” is used frequently in healthcare literature; however, the true concept of acuity is sometimes misunderstood. Acuity is the accurate description of patient attributes that should be used to classify care needs and navigation requirements. In assessing and prioritizing patients’ needs, it becomes possible to predict the appropriate allocation of resources.

To this end, the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators (AONN+) has entered into a collaboration with Astellas US, LLC, to develop, standardize, and validate an evidence-based, oncology navigation–specific acuity tool. With the ability to accurately assess acuity of oncology patients, predict workload intensity, and measure patient outcomes, this tool will increase navigators’ effectiveness while decreasing the cost of care.

In this issue, we present a literature scoping review article that represents the groundwork for this initiative. Through their research, the authors methodically address these questions:

What are the definitions of acuity, acuity tool, acuity system, barriers to care, and distress?

  • How can barriers to care be categorized?
  • Is there a relationship between barriers to care and acuity?
  • Is there a relationship between distress and acuity?
  • What acuity tools already exist?
  • How can a patient acuity score relate to factors such as productivity, return on investment, staffing/caseload, effectiveness, and time management?
  • Is there any support in the literature to demonstrate that any of the AONN+ Standardized Metrics are patient acuity measures?

I invite you to read their article entitled “Key Considerations for an Evidence-Based Oncology Patient Navigation–Specific Acuity Tool: A Scoping Review.” I am confident that the results from this initiative will help you in your navigation practice.


Lillie Digital Signature
Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, ONN-CG
Editor-in-Chief, JONS, University Distinguished Service Professor of Breast Cancer, Professor of Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Co-Developer of Work Stride: Managing Cancer at Work, Johns Hopkins Healthcare Solutions, Program Director and Co-Founder of AONN+
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Last modified: February 25, 2020

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