National Cancer InstituteU.S. National Institutes of Healthwww.cancer.gov
Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities, Patient Navigation Program (PNP) logo

What Are Patient Navigators?

Patient Navigators are trained, culturally sensitive health care workers who provide support and guidance throughout the cancer care continuum. They help people "navigate" through the maze of doctors' offices, clinics, hospitals, outpatient centers, insurance and payment systems, patient-support organizations, and other components of the health care system. Services are designed to support timely delivery of quality standard cancer care and ensure that patients, survivors, and families are satisfied with their encounters with the cancer care system. Patient Navigator activities designed to achieve these outcomes include:

  • Coordinating appointments with providers to ensure timely delivery of diagnostic and treatment services.
  • Maintaining communication with patients, survivors, families, and the health care providers to monitor patient satisfaction with the cancer care experience.
  • Ensuring that appropriate medical records are available at scheduled appointments.
  • Arranging language translation or interpretation services.
  • Facilitating financial support and helping with paperwork.
  • Arranging transportation and/or child/elder care.
  • Facilitating linkages to follow-up services.

Other Navigator activities include community outreach, providing access to clinical trials, and building partnerships with local agencies and groups (e.g., referrals to other services and/or cancer survivor support groups).

Updated: 07/22/09