Delivering high-quality cancer care to all patients presents numerous challenges, including difficulties with ensuring patients have access to well-coordinated care across the cancer continuum. Patient navigation programs are designed to promote access to timely cancer diagnosis and care by addressing barriers to cancer care, such as challenges with health literacy, language barriers affecting comprehension of diagnosis and treatment, lack of transportation, or insufficient insurance coverage. Patient navigation programs were originally designed—and are still primarily directed at—improving cancer care among vulnerable patients. However, patient navigation services can help ensure high-quality care among all patients with cancer.
To facilitate discussion on how to improve navigation services for patients with cancer, the National Cancer Policy Forum of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine held a workshop on Establishing Effective Patient Navigation Programs in Oncology in Washington, DC, on November 13 and 14, 2017. At this workshop, a broad range of experts, including clinicians, navigators, researchers, and patients, provided an overview of patient navigation, explored current models of patient navigation programs, identified lessons learned from implementation of patient navigation programs as well as gaps in the evidence base, and explored policy challenges and opportunities to improve patient navigation for patients with cancer. The workshop rapporteurs have prepared this proceedings as a factual summation of the session discussions.