Establishing goals for a navigation program is critical to its operational success. Goals give navigators and navigation leaders direction to develop their workflow. How are goals determined? Goals are determined by understanding the needs and objectives of your stakeholders—the patient, the physician, and the healthcare facility. How can nurse navigators use their skills and expertise to contribute to the goals of the stakeholders? Established goals should not only benefit the customer, but show value to the organization.
When goal setting, consider the following questions:
- Who are my stakeholders?
- What are the goals, vision, mission, and values of my stakeholders?
- How will my navigation program benefit my stakeholders?
- How will my navigation program show value to my stakeholders?
Goals should be written in clear and concise statements utilizing the S.M.A.R.T. model (Table).
S.M.A.R.T. goal examples:
- Improve timeliness to care for breast cancer patients by 5 days by December 31, 2019
- Increase patient satisfaction to the 75th percentile or greater by December 31, 2019
- Develop a GYN navigation program workflow by December 31, 2019
When considering what data to collect, you also need to consider what data you have access to. Choose metrics that will help to communicate and align with the goals of your program. You want to limit the collection of data to the key components that you actually need, and which are useful and available. For example, if your navigation program’s goal is quality improvement of the patient experience, you may want to consider collecting metrics about patient satisfaction or timeliness to treatment.
Ensure that you have a process for data collection. Sometimes data already exist, but you need to gain access to it. Consider working with your Electronic Medical Record IT support, who could help build reports. This will reduce the need for manual data collection. Many health systems have a data analytics team that can build automated reports for you. Gaining access to automated reports is ideal for faster and accurate data collection. However, you may still need to consider other forms of data collection, such as interviews and surveys. Determine when data collection sources are to be kept confidential.
As you begin to gather data, you will need to determine how frequently you will present the data based on the story they tell. Some data you can present monthly, but other data have to be presented quarterly or annually to see a trend. Once you determine how often you are going to present data, determining how the data will be presented is equally important. You want to ensure that your audience can quickly look at a display of the data and visually see the story you are telling. Line graphs are great for tracking changes over shorter periods of time and are used frequently, but bar graphs, stacked bar graphs, and area maps can be impactful as well (Figure). Try displaying your data into different graphs to determine the best visual option.
In an effort not to manipulate the results, be careful about eliminating any outliers in your data. Instead, determine if the outliers are data elements that you can explain. If the outliers are changing the assumptions in the data, you may need to take them out. When data are eliminated, a footnote in the presentation is necessary.
Setting goals, collecting data, and measuring impact are all critical components of a navigation program. They become the key drivers in how you tell your program’s story and the impact it has on the patients, physicians, and healthcare facilities. Be sure to take the time to develop a process that is meaningful and impactful. If needed, lean in on other navigation leaders or navigation organizations to provide mentorship, support, and guidance.