How Susan G. Komen Is Speeding Up Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment with Patient Navigators

Project Description

The patient navigator online training program at Ohio’s Susan G. Komen Columbus improves the quality of care for women receiving abnormal screening results with 100 percent satisfaction for participants. The organization’s ultimate goal is to reduce the number of women who fail to follow-up on treatment and improve outcomes. Read more about this project from Talance, Inc.

  • Skills:

    • platform design
    • licensed curriculum
    • Blended learning
    • learning strategy
    • custom curriculum
  • Client:

    Susan G. Komen Columbus

Susan G. Komen Online Training Program for Patient Navigators

Timing is everything when it comes to breast cancer. Early screening and detection can save a life. Dealing with a diagnosis requires knowing what to expect and when. Daily duties mean keeping up with appointments and following a treatment schedule. All of it requires being on top of the disease in order to improve the chances of overcoming it.

Online Training for Patient Navigators

Susan G. Komen in Columbus, Ohio, is shortening the time between detection and treatment with a new online training program aimed at patient navigators, who specialize in helping underserved patients deal with the health care system. It teaches them technical skills, gives them a chance to practice, and then allows them to apply those skills at work. It has been offered to navigators throughout the state as part of Komen’s Breast Cancer Patient Navigation Program.

Patients benefit tremendously from navigators. Receiving support from a patient navigator can improve the way newly diagnosed cancer patients feel about their care. They tend to report fewer problems, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. According to Komen, “Navigation programs are associated with improved five-year survival rates for breast cancer patients and present an opportunity to address disparities in breast cancer survival for medically underserved women.”

The trouble lies in making sure there are enough patient navigators to fill the need, and that they are adequately trained.

“Many [patient navigators] lack specific training in breast health and/or cancer and/or navigation itself,” says Julie McMahon, director of mission at Komen Columbus. She explains that the program is aimed at reducing time to diagnosis and time to treatment as well as increasing patient satisfaction. It also trains nurse navigators working in a clinical setting in how to interact with patients at the point of abnormal screening results.

The challenge of training navigators is compounded in a large state with rural pockets, like Ohio. The possibility of all participants coming together personally in one place over 12 weeks is effectively impossible. In addition, the quality of training and scope of a navigator’s role vary greatly among rural, suburban, and metropolitan health care institutions.

The web-based training program developed in collaboration with Talance, Inc., solves the problem by teaching online, where participants can learn and collaborate at any time, no matter where they are. Learners are located in all four corners of the state, but they collaborate online together for about three months.

Participants have a range of experience, from new appointees to veteran nurses. Some have personally faced breast cancer challenges and want to help others who find themselves in similar situations.

The program covers topics such as documentation and coordination skills, assessment strategies, and the basics of how insurance works. It also covers breast cancer in depth, with details on screening options, types of treatment, and genetics and genomics.

In addition to reading material, the course has places for community learning, including discussion forums and live webinars. The course offers 22 CNE credits through the Oncology Nursing Society.

Highly Satisfied Students

Participation satisfaction is as high as it can be, with 100 percent reporting that the information presented was useful to their practices. Many found great value in networking with and meeting others in navigator roles with whom they could share ideas, challenges, and best practices.

More than 95 percent of patients served by navigators in the course said they were highly satisfied.

95% elearning satisfaction

100% elearning usefulness

Overall satisfaction of participants

Usefulness to job

So far, Komen Columbus has trained more than 40 navigators. Eventually, the program could be expanded to serve Komen affiliates around the United States.

Quotes from Susan G. Komen Columbus

"Monique and her staff delivered a great program customized to our training needs. Deadlines were met, quality was high, and Monique and her team were open and flexible in helping us problem solve solutions."

- Julie McMahon, Director of Mission at Susan G. Komen for the Cure Columbus Affiliate

“I showed this course to a navigator friend who is a certified nurse breast patient navigator. She was impressed with the content of the course and couldn't believe that Komen offered this at no charge.”

- Training participant


“This was an excellent course. I learned a lot, and it was a great review for me also!”

- Training participant


“The content of the entire course was very informative and helpful. It brought new ideas and confirmed current best practices. Thank you.”

- Training participant


 “Everything was very organized and well-presented.”

- Training participant