What is a Patient Navigator?
There are many roles in the healthcare field, and most automatically think of being in healthcare as being a nurse or doctor. There are so many different roles that many do not know, and being a patient navigator is an important role in the healthcare field.
What does a patient navigator do?
A patient navigator is someone who works in conjunction with a patient to help the patient get all provided healthcare services that the patient may need. In the role of a patient navigator, you work with patients after they have been seen within the hospital or clinic and help the patient get appointments with providers that are needed. You also work closely with the patient to attend to their needs, whether it be a new provider, a referral from a provider, social services, mental health services, and sometimes, just someone to listen to their concerns and help address the patient’s needs at the current time.
How can a patient navigator help someone with hepatitis C?
Patient navigators such as me are an essential part of healthcare. Some navigators are specialized in a department of medicine, and others are there for every need of the patient. In my particular role, I am specialized in hepatitis C and work with patients who are RNA positive. I work with patients who need to be referred to a specialist, such as a gastroenterologist or infectious disease provider. I work with patients who also need substance abuse recovery and those who also need services through the Ryan White Program for those affected by HIV. Many of these patients do not have a primary care provider and I also give the patient a list of providers they can choose from. I follow the patient through to make sure they have a way to their appointments, what to ask when they are at their appointment, things to write down, where to get their follow up labs and many times, I am the only support a patient has.
Building relationships and offering support
Building a relationship with patients is very important. As a patient navigator, patients are scared, they at times, feel hopeless and they do not understand the healthcare system. This can be very frustrating and sadly, without someone helping, this leads to many patients not seeking further care. Patient navigators are needed more within the hospitals and clinics to help bridge the gap between patients and the providers to better serve the needs of the community.
Next time that you or someone you know is in the hospital or is at a new clinic for healthcare, reach out and ask if they offer patient navigator services. If they do, reach out, use their services, so that not only can you have someone to help, you are able to access the complete healthcare you need.