If you’ve spent any time on our website, you’ve probably seen a lot of talk about “Patient Navigators.”
In February 2016, NPF launched its Patient Navigation Center to provide personalized, one-on-one support to all people impacted by psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Although our center is less than two years old, patient navigation programs have existed for over 25 years.
The history of patient navigation
The first patient navigation program was established in 1990 by oncologist Harold P. Freeman, M.D. While working at New York City’s Harlem Hospital, Freeman cared for many patients with late stage breast cancer. Many of these people were uninsured and faced barriers to receiving a timely diagnosis and proper care. Freeman knew that without these obstacles, their cancer could have been detected earlier. Thus, he created a program to help eliminate the barriers that cancer patients face in screening, diagnosis, accessing proper treatment and receiving supportive care.
Since then, Freeman’s model has been used by cancer organizations to help people navigate the complicated disease. More recently, the patient navigation model has been used to help people with other chronic illnesses, including MS and Crohn’s disease.
Patient navigation and psoriatic disease
If you’re living with psoriatic disease, you know that it’s a complicated condition. From flare-ups to periods of intense pain, those impacted experience many ups and downs. In addition to painful symptoms, maintaining psoriatic disease requires access to specialized medical care and treatments. To ensure that our community has the resources needed to manage their disease, NPF established its own patient navigation program. Below are some of the top questions we receive about our Patient Navigators.
What is a Patient Navigator?
According to the American Medical Association, a Patient Navigator provides personal guidance to help people understand and navigate the health care system.
For example, a Patient Navigator can help you find specialists and provide resources to understand your disease and its treatment options. At NPF, our goal is to help you live a full and healthy life with psoriatic disease and reduce any barriers that stand in the way of effective and affordable treatment.
What kinds of things can Patient Navigators do?
Patient Navigators assist people and their families with many factors associated with psoriatic disease. This includes finding psoriatic disease specialists, explaining treatment and care options, helping with insurance issues and providing guidance on workplace related issues (including applying for disability). We also provide emotional support for our community by allowing them to talk openly about their life with psoriatic disease in a safe and confidential environment.
While Patient Navigators can help with many aspects of the health care system, it’s important to remember that they are not doctors. They will not make a diagnosis or provide any other medical services. Patient Navigation Center services are intended to be used in conjunction with the care provided by a person’s health care provider.
Who can benefit from working with a Patient Navigator?
Anyone! Whether you’re newly diagnosed or have been living with the disease for years, Patient Navigators can help. At NPF, we have a library of medically-reviewed resources and a comprehensive understanding of patient assistance programs and available financial resources. We’ve also built a vibrant community of people living with psoriatic disease, who can offer personal guidance and support along your journey. If you have a question about psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis, a Patient Navigator can help you find exactly what you need.
Who are the NPF Patient Navigators?
To meet our team, check out this video tour of the Patient Navigation Center.
How can I get in touch with an NPF Patient Navigator?
NPF Patient Navigators can be reached by phone (1-800-723-9166), email, text (503-410-7766) and live chat. The Patient Navigation Center is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Pacific time. If you call us outside of operating hours, your question will be answered the next business day. However, you can always send us an email or submit a question through our website. All email inquiries will be answered within two business days.
The opinions expressed by NPF Blog contributors are their own and do not reflect the opinions or positions of the National Psoriasis Foundation. The information posted on the NPF Blog is not intended as, and is not, a substitute for professional medical advice.
Driving Discovery, Creating Community
This year, we’re celebrating 50 years of driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. See how far we’ve come with this timeline of NPF’s history. But there’s still plenty to do, and we can’t do it without you! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funding to promote research into better treatments and a cure by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or even create your own DIY event. Contact our Patient Navigation Center for free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today! Together, we will find a cure.