This is often a client’s first point of contact with OjaiCARES and it is frequently the most important. With a diagnosis or an abnormal test result, individuals are thrown into unknown territory. There is a new lexicon to learn, tests to decipher, insurance to navigate and questions, lots of questions about how best to proceed. A trained patient navigator is able to help clients in the following important ways:
- understand their test results and what they mean in laypersons’ terms
- learn what questions to ask their doctors, what other tests are available, how, when and where to get a second opinion
- manage their insurance, etc.
- receive non-medical advice and referrals for doctors, treatments, clinical trials
- help with applying for financial assistance
- guidance on assembling a personal and medical support team
- nutritional advice
- learn how to talk to children and concerned family and friends
Patient navigation at OjaiCARES is unique because: 1) we are equipped to oversee and support a patient’s total care, helping them to develop and manage a comprehensive support plan; and 2) we are not affiliated with a particular medical group or organization. We are the patient’s advocate; our only focus is on the patient’s needs and not those of the hospital, or the medical group, or the insurance company. We are able to provide unbiased advice on doctors and services and have compiled a robust and up-to-date database of resources, helping to find the providers that fit them, based on their medical as well as their personal needs.
The Affordable Care Act included provisions to help bridge heath care and community support. Patient navigation is a relatively new field designed to do just this. Navigators act as a bridge between the patient, medical team, family and community to improve health outcomes. This has been shown to improve patients’ experience with cancer care after diagnosis by increasing information and psycho-social care, and reducing miscommunication, vulnerability and, therefore, stress. This is the most critical service that OjaiCARES provides. Navigators complete specific coursework and receive specialized training to be certified. OjaiCARES has two patient navigators available to meet clients’ needs. An initial patient navigation session takes approximately 2.5 hours, with additional sessions scheduled as needed throughout the client’s treatment. In this session, new clients are met with empathy and information in a warm and supportive environment where both their physical and emotional needs can be met.