Patient navigators help reduce readmissions, improve patient satisfaction

Hospitals across the country are turning to patient navigators to help reduce readmissions and improve patient satisfaction.

Patient navigation began in the 1990s in Harlem as a way to reduce medical disparities. Some poorer patients would ignore abnormal test results, and then appear years later with advanced cancer. Patient navigators helped explain test results and get these patients get care quickly. 

Today’s nurse navigators, often called case managers or patient coordinators have various duties, which can include scheduling a follow-up appointments, accompanying patients on physician visits, explaining test results and procedures, and arranging for patient transportation to appointments.  

Hospitals who employ navigators report that the navigators have shortened the time from diagnosis to treatment.  Other hospitals report that navigators pay for themselves, as they help to reduce readmissions and keep patients coming back to their facility for care.

(Sources: The Advisory Board Daily Briefing, http://advisory.com, June 15, 2010; Inquirer, http://philly.com, June 13, 2010)