The use of “patient navigators” is a rather trendy new idea wrapped up in the minds of the public and policymakers with healthcare reform. However, a Washington Post article pours some cool, if not cold, water on these folks.
It says that “so far, research shows that, with the possible exception of poor people who typically don’t receive sufficient medical care, navigators have only a modest effect on how well patients do. There is little evidence that they save money. And research on patient satisfaction is mixed.
“Those findings have relevance as the healthcare system moves from a fee-for-service model to one that rewards high-quality care. Doctors and hospitals are under growing pressure to rein in costs and show that every new initiative has value. But value can be subjective and difficult to measure. Are navigators, for example, a nice add-on service that merely reassures patients, or do they contribute much more?”
“‘I think for a lot of patients, maybe even the majority of patients with cancer, navigation may not have that big an impact on the kind of care they get,’ Scott Ramsey, a professor of public health sciences at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in Seattle, told The Post.”
Now if only all the navigators worked for free, then they’d be cost-effective….