Utilization of Patient Navigators in an Urban Academic Pediatric Primary Care Practice

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Navigating health care systems can be a challenge for families. A retrospective descriptive cohort analysis was conducted assessing referrals to patient navigators (PNs) in one urban academic pediatric primary care practice. PNs tracked referral processes and a subset of PN referrals was assessed for markers of successful referrals. The most common reasons for referral were assistance overcoming barriers to care (46%), developmental concerns (38%), and adherence/care coordination concerns (14%). Significant predictors of referral were younger age, medical complexity, public insurance, male sex, and higher rates of no-show to visits in primary or subspecialist care. The majority of referrals were resolved. The referrals for process-oriented needs were significantly more successful than those for other concerns. PNs were more effective for discrete process tasks than for those that required behavior change by patients or families. Future directions include analysis of cost effectiveness of the PN program and analysis of parent and primary care provider experience.

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