The Patient Navigator Program at MGH: Improving Compliance with Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines in Underserved Populations

The Colorectal Cancer Patient Navigator Program at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Chelsea is widely recognized as a best practice for increasing colorectal cancer screening rates and reducing healthcare disparities among low income patients and those with low English proficiency, especially Latinos. Launched in January 2007 by the MGH Center for Community Health Improvement (CCHI) and the MGH Cancer Center, the program works to overcome patient perceived barriers to screening in people who have been identified as at-risk for not making or keeping appointments (MGH Colorectal Cancer Screening Program; About This Program 2011). What began as a pilot project funded by a single Clinical Innovation Award has grown into a successful program which is now exclusively funded through philanthropic donations (MGH Cancer Center News 2011). This paper discusses 1) some of the reasons why patients fail to make or keep endoscopy appointments and how the Patient Navigator Program addresses those concerns; 2) the value of the program to patients and providers; 3) documentation of program results and conditions that have led to success; and 4) predictions for the future.

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