University of Alabama at Birmingham: O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center receives Patient Navigation Grant from American Cancer Society

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The American Cancer Society has awarded $300,000 to the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center and the University of South Alabama Health Mitchell Cancer Institute. The grant, which will help investigators identify barriers to digital health literacy, is one of 14 patient navigation grants awarded by the American Cancer Society with the aim of facilitating timely and equitable access to care for cancer patients and their families.

“Digital tools will increasingly become a standard part of navigating care and supportive resources,” said Gabrielle Rocque, M.D., associate scientist at the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center and principal investigator of the grant. “This grant will advance training curriculum for navigators, social workers and nurses to improve digital health literacy and engagement of under-resourced populations to improve their cancer journey.”

In addition to supporting patients with barriers to health care delivery, the patient navigation workforce is ideally positioned to facilitate patient engagement with technology. Currently, navigators use an electronic medical record web-based software to capture patient-reported data, including symptoms during both clinical encounters and at home.

The funds from this grant will provide a foundation for training navigators in digital health literacy, which will support the growing needs for patients to engage with technology. This will be used to minimize disparities associated with unequal access to technology that have the potential to improve health outcomes.

Ideally, these grants will lead to the identification of best practices that positively impact patient outcomes. ACS will evaluate the patient navigation programs based on the number of lives touched and capacity for sustainability.

“Navigation is a crucial component of cancer care, from prevention through treatment and survivorship,” said Anna Lisa Weigel, cancer support strategic partnerships manager with the American Cancer Society. “By providing individualized assistance to patients, families and caregivers, navigation ensures high-quality care, creating positive health outcomes for patients.”

The American Cancer Society is on a mission to free the world from cancer by investing in lifesaving research, providing information and support, and working to ensure that individuals in every community have access to cancer prevention, detection and treatment.

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