What is a nurse navigator?

March 17, 2016

Nurse navigator, care coordinator, patient advocate, case manager. Regardless of the term used, this role is transforming the delivery of health care.


The American Nurses Association (ANA) defines care coordination as “a function that helps ensure that the patient’s needs and preferences are met over time with respect to health services and information sharing across people, functions, and sites.” In other words, a nurse navigator acts as a single, primary point of contact for patients through all aspects of their treatments, such as:

  • Helping set up follow-up appointments.
  • Answering questions.
  • Educating patients and their support system.
  • Acting as a liaison between the patient and other caregivers.
  • Coordinating care across several departments.
  • Helping with transition from medical facilities to home.
  • Providing advice on things like where chemotherapy patients can shop for wigs.

Changing the game of health care delivery:

If you’re thinking that nurses have been doing this all along, you’re right. In recent years, however, there’s been considerably more emphasis placed on this role, due largely to the focus centered on it by the Affordable Care Act, and the acceptance of care coordination as a reimbursable expense through Medicare and Medicaid. Care coordination has also been shown to:

  • Reduce ER
  • Decrease medication costs.
  • Reduce inpatient charges.
  • Lower hospital readmission rates.
  • Improve clinical outcomes.


Care coordinators have a positive and valuable impact on patient care and the overall delivery of health care.




Capella offers the following care coordination programs:

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