Patient Navigator Training Collaborative director Patricia Valverde was recently interviewed for an article, “How Patient Navigators Improve Care and Lower Cost of Healthcare,” for the Go Practice blog. The Go Practice Blog has the vision that independent practices are the best place for building relationships with patients and delivering value-based care. See an excerpt from the article below and read full article here.

How Patient Navigators Improve Care and Lower Cost of Healthcare

by Lisa Eramo

Improving patient outcomes has always been a priority for physicians, but now, these outcomes are increasingly tied to payments. Payers want to ensure that they pay for care that provides value to patients and helps them live healthier lives. However, one challenge of value-based payment models is that patient outcomes aren’t necessarily based on care provided in a single setting. In reality, patients often move through multiple disparate settings, each of which plays a role in whether they ultimately achieve positive results.

Without a guide on this somewhat rocky journey, some patients may not follow through with treatment or referrals. That’s where a patient navigator can help, says Patricia Alvarez Valverde, PhD, MPH, director of the Patient Navigator Training Collaborative (PNTC) at the Colorado School of Public Health in Aurora, Colorado.

“Our healthcare system is fragmented,” says Valverde. “When patients go from a primary care provider to a specialist or offsite location, there are a lot of opportunities for patients to fall through the cracks.” The core purpose of patient navigation is to reduce barriers to accessing or completing care, says Valverde. This includes social, emotional, physical, or logistical barriers that prevent patients from achieving positive health outcomes, she adds.

What Is a Patient Navigator?

Patient navigators identify the social determinants of health that might hinder individuals from moving forward with treatment, such as lack of insurance, unstable housing, mental health diagnoses, lack of transportation, or a whole host of other barriers. Navigators address these barriers by connecting patients to community resources and services and serving as a mentor to help patients stay on track, says Valverde.

Patient navigators are well-versed in topics such as health insurance terminology, health literacy, motivational interviewing, and behavior change. Unlike care coordinators who tend to address programmatic requirements (e.g., reducing readmissions), patient navigators focus more broadly on health disparities across all populations and can therefore have a bigger potential impact on outcomes, she adds.

Read full article here.