Patient care navigation: delivering holistic care and returning joy to medicine

Smoothing the transitions between different parts of the patient care journey has become a growing part of hospitals' strategies to improve the patient experience. 

During an October webinar hosted by Becker's Hospital Review and sponsored by Vituity, healthcare innovation leaders discussed how patient care navigation is becoming an integral part of clinical operations and the benefits it delivers to patients and providers. Panelists were:

  • Arianna Campbell, principal, California Bridge Program
  • Andrew Smith, president, Inflect Health
  • Imamu Tomlinson, MD, chief executive officer, Vituity

Three key takeaways were:

  1. Meeting patients where they are is about more than just location. With rising awareness of health inequities and a need for healthcare providers to meet patients where they are, organizations are making greater efforts to bring care closer to communities and patients' homes. But "meeting patients where they are" is also a metaphor for providing care tailored to individuals' demographic, economic, and psychosocial circumstances.

    "Care delivery has to be on the patients’ terms," Dr. Tomlinson said.” It’s more than meeting them when and where they need care; we must help them navigate through a complex and often cumbersome system.

  2. Care navigation is the glue that keeps the entire healthcare continuum together. As providers reorient care models to adapt to patients' needs and preferences, they must ensure that care delivers a cohesive patient experience. Care navigation is a mechanism that can help providers seamlessly steer and support patients on their journey.

    "The [care] navigator is talking to the patient in the hospital, following up when they get home, making sure they get the resources they need, making a personal connection, and making recommendations. This gives peace of mind not only to the patient but also to the provider who is worried about what will happen to their patients," Mr. Smith said. 

  3. Care navigation can help address common pitfalls in the patient care journey. One of the most common challenges for patients is the excessively brief provider interactions in the clinical setting, which leave many patients with questions and not knowing what to do when they go home. In that respect, care navigators provide invaluable support by clearing up confusion and extending necessary guidance.

    But navigators can also provide pre-visit support, as does California Bridge, a program that aims to increase access to medication for addiction treatment. “Care navigation in action can change a person’s life,” Ms. Campbell said.  “I’ve seen it transform patient care when incorporated into an emergency department, and now I can’t imagine life without it”.

    California Bridge's care navigators also often take patients to the emergency room and accompany and advocate for them while they are there, which has resulted in fewer patients eloping against medical advice and fewer readmissions. "The action of sitting with a patient and [giving them] hope and reassurance can completely change the course of this person's life," Ms. Campbell said.

As providers become more cognizant of the importance of the patient experience and of caring for patients holistically, the adoption of care navigation is pointing to a future in which care delivery will hardwire support beyond healthcare needs. 

Vituity is building technology solutions that embrace this vision and increase personal interaction with patients — and automate elements that do not need to be done in person. By putting the patient first in care transformation solutions, clinicians at all levels find more satisfaction in their work. At the same time, health systems close a critical gap in patient-centric care that benefits the communities they serve.

Click here to watch the complete webinar.

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