A Tribute to Every Navigator

August 2023 Vol 14, No 8 —August 22, 2023
Sharon S. Gentry, MSN, RN, HON-ONN-CG, AOCN, CBCN
Program Director, AONN+

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)CY24 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Proposed Rule is a rich service showing the hard-earned respect and gratitude that every navigator has earned in carrying forth a holistic approach to patient-centered care for decades.1 A recent editorial by oncology navigation colleagues across the United States titled “Isn’t there enough evidence on the benefits of patient navigation?”2 agreed with a report from Chan and colleagues.3 This report demonstrated the impact of patient navigation across the cancer continuum to solidify that patient navigation needs to be recognized as an integral part of usual clinical care with reimbursement. The editorial also called for consistently defining oncology patient navigation as vetted in the Oncology Navigation Standards of Professional Practice.4 It pointed out that this profession has defined competencies, with formal training and accredited certification. The collaborative effort to sustain oncology navigation through the work of AONN+, American Cancer Society National Navigation Roundtable, and other professional organizations has led to this opportunity for a federal proposal to have Medicare pay for navigation services for cancer patients. Congratulations to every navigator who has contributed to the evidence-based metrics on patient outcomes, return on investment, and patient satisfaction!

This is also a monumental commitment to health equity, as navigation is an evidence-based solution to addressing disparities in cancer care, and caregiver support is included in the Caregiver Training Services and Community Health Integration Services.

A favorite visual description of an oncology navigator is appearing like a thread in a garment. The professional navigator makes the care process appear seamless, working with patients and caregivers, weaving in the multitude of healthcare resources they may have to deal with, whether it is people, agencies, or education. These efforts support the patients through the care continuum and help them make personalized informed decisions. The folds of this personalized garment surround any barriers—systemic or patient-related issues, caregivers who are traveling with the patient, or disease nuances—to allow for timely, equitable, inclusive, and supportive care.

The provisions described by the CMS proposed codes are groundbreaking as the first ever that are specifically designed to describe the services of navigators!

That's My Take.

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The Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators (AONN+) Applauds the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for Including Reimbursement for Oncology Patient Navigation in CY24 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Proposal

References

  1. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Calendar Year (CY) 2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Proposed Rule. www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/calendar-year-cy-2024-medicare-physician-fee-schedule-proposed-rule.
  2. Paskett ED, Battaglia T, Calhoun EA, et al. Isn’t there enough evidence on the benefits of patient navigation? CA Cancer J Clin. Published online June 26, 2023. doi: 10.3322/caac.21805.
  3. Chan R, Milch V, Crawford-Williams F, et al. Patient navigation across the cancer care continuum: an overview of systematic reviews and emerging literature. CA Cancer J Clin. Published online June 26, 2023. doi: 10.3322/caac.21788.
  4. Franklin E, Burke S, Dean M, et al. Oncology navigation standards of professional practice. Journal of Oncology Navigation & Survivorship. 2022;13(3):74-85.
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Last modified: August 22, 2023

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