Defining the Roles and Responsibilities of Patient Navigators

Patient navigation, which helps patients overcome barriers to accessing care, is growing in importance, particularly in cancer care. Patient navigators, sometimes also called patient advocates, health care advocates or consultants, or medical advocates, aid patients in finding doctors, understanding treatment and care options, dealing with medical paperwork, maneuvering insurance, and more. However, the exact roles and responsibilities of patient navigators remain ill-defined. In a recent article, a committee of cancer care providers, educators, and cancer research centers, led by the George Washington University Cancer Institute, lays down a consensus framework defining the roles and competencies of patient navigators and clarifying their place in the health care system. This framework is intended to help standardize the patient navigator profession.