Role of the health navigator

What is a health navigator?
A health navigator (also known as a patient navigator or resource navigator) is a member of the health care team who helps individuals overcome barriers to quality care. They address barriers including access to health care, insurance or lack thereof, poor health literacy, transportation, child care and more.

Health navigators are usually trusted members of the community they serve and have an unusually close understanding of the community served, often due to shared lived experiences.
What is the role of the health navigator?
Health navigators build trusting relationships with their patients, helping to support, educate, and help patients navigate the complex health care system. In order to navigate this system, health navigators need to work with both patients and health care providers and community partners. They need to be able to identify their patient’s physical, emotional, and cultural needs and help them access appropriate resources to meet these needs.

Health navigators have a good understanding of the health resources available in their communities in order to refer their patients to the best resources available to them.
Why should a health navigator be part of the care team?
Research shows that health navigation provided by unlicensed health navigators reduces health disparities, improves patient engagement with their health, enables patients to get the care they need, improves health outcomes, and reduces healthcare costs.

Health navigators in the news
Colorado works to establish registry for health navigators 
Article from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment describing aims for developing a competency-based credentialing program and voluntary registry for health navigators.

PSD grantee leads the way in educating health navigators
Otero Junior College establishes the first Health Navigator Associate’s degree in Colorado.