The role of the patient navigator is on the rise, but what makes them so valuable? How do you know if it’s time for your radiology center or outpatient imaging center to appoint one? First, let’s explore what a patient navigator’s role is within a practice or a hospital to see how the role impact consumer-driven radiology patients.
A patient navigator’s job is to serve as a patient’s advocate, empowering and helping patients make the best decisions for the future of their health care. Ironically, the patient navigator’s goal should be to become dispensable to the patient because they have helped them become their own advocates. Radiology providers often don’t realize how valuable these individuals can be to their practice.
Whether the patient navigator is focusing on providing and explaining patient resources or guiding the patient along the journey through their illness, this individual can be just as important as the patient’s doctor. With the help of a navigator, patients can get a better understanding of the health care system and their processes, find affordable care options and become more empowered patients.
Patient navigators are key to explaining:
- Radiology terminology
- Various technology and the differences between modalities
- Costs of care and additional costs, like contrast
- Patients’ needs, like if the patient needs an Open MRI to help with claustrophobia
- Where to go for care to find the most affordable, highest quality option
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Aside from the assistance they are able to provide to patients, patient navigators are also beneficial to the organizations in which they work. Hiring a patient navigator can help your practice or hospital with quality improvement, assist in decreasing common health care disparities and provide better support for patients during the decision making process while taking some of the stress off of doctors. By sharing the responsibility of patient navigation, physicians and nurse staff are able to focus their attention on serving more patients and providing better overall care.
Patient navigators can often be found in hospitals, cancer centers, surgery centers, radiology centers and clinics. If you’re a patient, be sure to ask your doctor to see if there is a patient navigator on staff who can be available if you have questions, or check out this resource: Patient Navigator. If you are a health care provider interested in adding a patient navigator to your staff, you can get started by exploring these training resources.