Patient navigators pay for themselves

During a time when many physician practices are struggling to stay in the black, it may seem counterintuitive to hire additional staff. But adding a patient navigator or care coordinator to your team may yield a substantial return on investment through reduced no-show appointments and better patient compliance, according to an article from Medical Economics.

The job titles and descriptions of these professionals vary widely, according to the article, but what navigators essentially do is reach out to patients personally to remind them of appointments as well as review medications, referrals and other healthcare needs.

And research has shown that adding a personal touch pays. For example, at MetroHealth Cancer Care Center, a 400-physician, 17-site health system in Cleveland, Ohio, the use of two full-time navigators cut no-shows for radiation patients enough to pay the one navigator's salary in just three months.

Similar pilot programs in other large systems are showing impressive results. Mercy Health System in Pennsylvania, for example, brought in $5 for every $1 spent on its navigator program, by cutting hospital readmissions and emergency department visits by about a third each.

The case managers being added to the system's payroll are also an integral part of Mercy's 35 primary care offices becoming certified as patient-centered medical homes, Medical Economics reported.

To learn more:
- read the article from Medical Economic
check out MetroHealth's patient navigator program

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