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By Tricia Strusowski MS, RN
FACT #1:The last place that cancer patients and their family want to be is in the hospital. Hospital stays also increase the chances of hospital-acquired infections, which can result in a longer length of stay and complications.
FACT #2: Patients and family members do not feel well equipped upon discharge from the hospital, especially when it comes to how to handle procedures at home such as dressing changes, central lines, injections, and drains, just to name a few. Medications can also be very confusing, in particular when there have been changes—adding or removing medications, and/or dosage changes.
How can a nurse navigator help? Let’s start by reviewing the roles and responsibilities of the navigator, which often encompass the following:
Given these responsibilities, how can nurse navigators help keep our patients out of the hospital?
First, we need to listen to our patients and their caregivers, and we need to share their story with the entire healthcare team. What are their specific concerns and educational needs? Keep in mind that these may have little or nothing to do with their diagnosis or plan of care. A comprehensive assessment of needs is essential for patients and caregivers to become empowered and successful during cancer treatment and to prevent avoidable admissions and ER visits.
Here are helpful tips for navigators to understand and meet these needs:
Patient and Caregiver Education
To measure progress, what reports and metrics would be helpful?
Discuss and prioritize these ideas with your multidisciplinary team and watch your avoidable admissions and ER visits decline.
Of note: Many of the above examples also align perfectly with the Oncology Care Model (OCM) practice redesign approach, value-based cancer care, and oncology medical home initiatives. Partner with your navigator as healthcare transitions to patient-centered, value-based delivery models.
Contributing blogger ACCC Member Tricia Strusowski, MS, RN, is a consultant with Oncology Solutions, LLC.