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Navigation Is a Critical Component in a Comprehensive Approach to Dismantling Health Inequities

September 2023 Vol 14, No 9 —September 27, 2023
Sharon S. Gentry, MSN, RN, HON-ONN-CG, AOCN, CBCN
Program Director, AONN+

As oncology patient navigation leaders, we knew it before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, the pandemic spotlighted the longstanding health inequities that have existed systemically in the United States and gave impetus to highlight it—the fact that patient navigation is an evidence-based intervention that effectively addresses disparities in cancer care. Oncology patient navigation is a health delivery support strategy that works as a part of a multidisciplinary approach throughout the patient’s care continuum to address barriers to care. It also assists in navigating the maze of information by enhancing shared decision-making through culturally appropriate education and care. All patient navigators improve patient care coordination and symptom management, as well as reduce costs, by analyzing and addressing diverse gaps in care at every stage of the cancer experience.1

The Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators (AONN+) Leadership Council—a collective voice that develops strategic priorities and helps execute AONN+’s initiatives—recognized the optimal timing to call for widespread implementation and sustainability of the patient navigation role. The document, Navigation Is a Critical Component in a Comprehensive Approach to Dismantling Health Inequities, is a call to action for the integration and sustainability of navigation within the healthcare team.2 The appeal supports the Cancer Moonshot3 and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services CY24 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Proposals around patient navigation, such as the Community Health Integration Services and the Principal Illness Navigation Services.4

This document elevates decades of oncology patient navigation efforts that have provided a holistic approach to the physical, social, and emotional aspects of care. The all-encompassing eye of navigation views the entire community, healthcare systems, and provider organizations from the patient’s perspective as part of a collective effort toward achieving health equity for all individuals affected by cancer.

That's My Take.


  1. Kline RM, Rocque GB, Rohan EA, et al. Patient navigation in cancer: the business case to support clinical needs. J Oncol Pract. 2019;15:585-590.
  2. Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators. Navigation Is a Critical Component in a Comprehensive Approach to Dismantling Health Inequities. https://aonnonline.org/images/AONN/PR/2023-07-25_AONN_LC_Health_Inequities_Statement_FINAL.pdf. 2023.
  3. Gentry SS. The White House’s moonshot program and navigation. Journal of Oncology Navigation & Survivorship. 2023;14(7):224-227.
  4. 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.
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    Last modified: September 27, 2023

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