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Navigating Towards Health

Strategies for Integrating Health Navigators Into Care Teams
Published: July 24, 2018 | Updated: July 27, 2018

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Too many people have a hard time getting the health care they need.

Across Colorado, more health care agencies and clinics are working with health navigators – professionals who help people get care despite difficulties with insurance, transportation or finding a doctor.

On behalf of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), CHI conducted research on how this growing workforce can be integrated into different workplaces. The goal is to ensure that navigators are hired, trained and supported in a way that works well for everyone.

CHI held a series of focus groups and interviews with health navigators and the patients and employers who work with them in order to learn what’s actually working in clinics and health agencies around Colorado.

So what works? CHI found that clinics should:

  • Build health navigators into a care team’s workflow, workspace and health data platforms.
  • Give health navigators a clear role and equip them with resources to perform it. 
  • Assemble a health navigator team that fits the needs of the community and clinic.

CHI also developed a tool employers can use to determine how many navigators their clinic might need.

The report includes three profiles. One features a patient who found relief with the help of a navigator, another shares how navigators at the Elmira Refugee Health Clinic help patients during a time of major transitions, and a third shows how health navigators are making a difference at Axis Health’s clinics in southwest Colorado.

This project followed up on CHI’s 2016 survey of health employers for CDPHE that examines current and future workforce issues related to health navigators. And it’s one of a number of steps CDPHE has taken to support these important members of health care teams, including creating a registry and licensure programs and supporting health navigators through a series of grants aimed at reducing health disparities.

Read CHI’s new report for CDPHE to learn more.