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The ASCO Post: Can a Navigation Program Lower Care Costs for Patients With Cancer?

From The ASCO Post: A cancer navigation program can reduce overall costs when deployed in collaboration with a statewide Medicare Advantage health plan across a wide range of practice types, according to findings to be presented by Worland et al at the upcoming 2022 ASCO Quality Care Symposium (Abstract 4). A reduction of $429 per health plan member per month was seen when patient navigation services were made available compared to no navigation services. “New and more effective therapies for cancer are constantly being introduced. Despite many of these advances, care coordination can often be fragmented, education about the best care options can be lacking, and access to care isn’t always easy. We’re missing some of the foundational components that enable whole person care. Navigation can fill these gaps, and we believe this study helps to chart a path forward on how to expand cancer navigation to help more people,” said Ravi B. Parikh, MD, MPP, FACP, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. About the Study Based on a 1989 national study on limited resources available for lower-income people with cancer, the nation’s first patient navigation program was put into place in 1990 in Harlem, New York, to assist patients through complex health-care systems. In over 30 years of utilization and expansion, patient navigation programs for people with cancer have been shown to reduce total cost of care in multiple settings and drive value by improving patient experience, keeping people out of the hospital, and improving survival. However, these programs have been very difficult to disseminate widely. This study looked at an independent patient navigation program for people with cancer deployed in partnership with a large statewide Medicare Advantage plan in New Jersey. The study started by looking at claims data from over 4,000 eligible patients with cancer in community and hospital-based practices in New Jersey (the state has a wide variety of practice settings, from small community practices to major academic medical centers). About 16% of the patients with cancer received navigation assistance. For the statistical analyses, researchers ultimately matched 222 patients with cancer who received patient navigation with 222 who did not have navigation assistance. Read more at The ASCO Post.