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ACS awards $4.2 million in patient navigation grants

Health systems will receive funds to bolster oncology navigation programs.

ACS today announced it is awarding $4.2 million in multi-year grants to 14 hospital systems across the country to enhance oncology patient navigation and address barriers to individualized, timely, and equitable access to care.

Each health system will receive $300,000 to bolster existing oncology navigation programs. Sponsorship for this initiative was led by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, along with Bristol Myers Squibb. Additional sponsors include Daiichi Sankyo and other funders. Grant recipients include:

  • HIMA San Pablo Oncologico-Caguas, Caguas, Puerto Rico
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • VCU Massey Cancer Center, Richmond, Virginia
  • The University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • University Of Alabama Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama
  • Harris Health System, Houston, Texas
  • Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts 
  • Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center, Bronx, New York
  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Seattle, Washington
  • City of Hope, Los Angeles, California
  • The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
  • Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois
  • Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, Colorado

ACS team members will be collecting evidence-based metrics from these health systems during the grant period and analyzing them. Today’s news comes on the heels of a special supplement to the journal Cancer released last month highlighting the importance of patient navigation. This supplement has detailed information about the impact and efficacy of navigation on the cancer journey.

History in patient navigation

ACS has long been a leader in patient navigation. For more than 30 years ACS has helped pave the way for navigation, establishing it as a path to ensuring access to quality care and improve health equity across the cancer continuum.

ACS involvement dates back to 1989, with the release of a Report to the Nation on Cancer in the Poor. In the 1990s, the organization supported surgical oncologist Harold P. Freeman, MD, in creating the first patient navigation program in Harlem, New York, where Dr. Freeman reported that “half of the women (with breast cancer) were terminal when they walked in” to the Harlem Hospital Center.

In 2005, ACS launched the ACS Patient Navigator Program, in partnership with AstraZeneca, through which the organization placed lay patient navigators in health systems across the country. These new grants are a way to provide support and capacity development of existing patient navigation programs, where ACS can have even greater impact. 

Patient navigation work today

Today, ACS’s work in navigation focuses on a multi-dimensional engagement plan, developing and driving sustainable solutions across the cancer continuum. This strategy has three parts:

  • Navigation support and capacity development: Helping hospital and health systems develop best practices, processes, and metrics for addressing barriers to care.
  • Sustainability and reimbursement: Through the National Navigation Roundtable, advocacy via ACS CAN, and other strategies ACS is playing a lead role to shape the field of patient navigation.
  • Digital navigation platform: ACS is committed to implementing a broad digital platform strategy to help oncology patients, regardless of zip code, insurance status, or medical home. This work is in its early stages.

ACS also has strategic investments in Discovery to further patient navigation, such as support for the work of Karen Freund, MD, MPH, an ACS clinical research professor based at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, MA. Her ACS-funded research focuses on patient navigation to eliminate cancer disparities. Through a series of subsequent strategic investments, including the continued funding of extramural research in navigation, ACS has supported the emergence of patient navigation as a successful service delivery model for at-risk cancer patients.

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