The concept of patient navigation was founded and pioneered by Harold P. Freeman in 1990 for the purpose of eliminating barriers to timely cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment, and supportive care. A critical window of opportunity to apply patient navigation is between the point of an abnormal finding to the point of resolution of the finding by diagnosis and treatment.
Currently the patient navigation model has been expanded to include the timely movement of an individual across the entire health care continuum from prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment, and supportive, to end-of-life care.
Patient navigation has shown efficacy as a strategy to reduce cancer mortality and is currently being applied to reduce mortality in other chronic diseases.
What types of barriers does Patient Navigation seek to eliminate?
Examples of some of the frequently encountered barriers that may be eliminated through patient navigation are the following:
- Financial barriers (including uninsured and under insured)
- Communication barriers (such as lack of understanding, language/cultural)
- Medical system barriers (fragmented medical system, missed appointments, lost results)
- Psychological barriers (such as fear and distrust)
- Other barriers (such as transportation and need for child care)