• Beth McCauley

A Brief History of Care Navigation

Patient navigation is a community-based service delivery intervention designed to promote access to timely diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other chronic diseases by eliminating barriers to care. The development of the concept of patient navigation was related to the findings of the American Cancer Society National Hearings on Cancer in the Poor in 1989.

Related to these findings, the nation’s first patient navigation program was conceived and initiated in 1990 in Harlem, New York by Dr. Harold Freeman. This original program focused on the critical window of opportunity to save lives from cancer by eliminating barriers to timely care between the point of a suspicious finding and the resolution of the finding by further diagnosis and treatment.

Subsequently, the scope of patient navigation, has been expanded to be applied across the entire health care continuum including prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship to the end of life.