Message from Dr. R. A. Badwe, Director, TMC, on KEVAT
It is estimated that the cancer burden in India is likely to increase from an approximate incidence of 1 million cases in 2012 to about 1.7 million in 2035. Over the years, Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) has witnessed a steady increase in the number of cancer cases registered. In 2019, about 1,10,000 new cases were registered in all TMC centres across the country; of which 45,624 were registered in TMH alone. Currently, 65,000 new cancer patients and 450,000 follow-ups are registered annually. More so, 40% of the patients visiting TMH come from Maharashtra (15% from Mumbai alone), while 60% of the patients come from other states of the country.
The increasing burden of the disease coupled with diversity of patient population and multi-disciplinary and complex nature of cancer-care necessitates creation of a dynamic network for efficient patient navigation for addressing diverse patient needs. With the ever-increasing number of patients visiting the Hospital each year, it is impossible to do justice to every interaction a doctor has with a patient. There is a need felt for trained professionals to help patients manage their medical experience, coordinate their care with clinical team and assist them with navigation in complex, multi-step medical system.
The aim of initiating a patient navigation program in oncology is to create a taskforce trained to handhold cancer patients and help them navigate through the cancer continuum of diagnosis, treatment, cure, survival; and serve special needs of palliation, end-of-life; to offer seamless care to patients and survivors.
Tata Memorial Centre (TMC), in collaboration with Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and with support from Tata Trusts, has introduced a one year (full time) Post Graduate Diploma in Patient Navigation (KEVAT), for the first time in India. The course will address the need for a structured patient support system for cancer care that will form a bridge between patients and access to care.
Patient Navigation is a rapidly growing and evolving healthcare profession. The concept evolved from Dr. Harold Freeman’s groundbreaking patient navigation study in 1995 and has steadily grown over the past couple of decades. While the need for patient navigation has never been greater, the role of the patient navigator and scope of practice has been ill-defined until now. Patient navigation programs have proliferated quickly with no clear standards.
This Patient Navigation Program - KEVAT is the first in India to focus on an emerging patient navigation model that can be applied across all cancer care institutions. The program shall empower the navigators to:
Patient Navigation is a novel concept in Oncology and in Healthcare. There are many research papers and publications that recognize the need and merit of the role of patient navigators co-existing in a system functioning with social workers and psychologists. While a social worker may be expected to learn about the medical aspects while on job, TMC through this course plans on integrating this learning in the course. Hands-on learning will form an essential part of skill development.
This course can induct graduates/post-graduates and equip them with necessary wherewithal (clinical and psycho-social aspects) to work in an oncology set-up.
There is a pressing need for well-trained patient navigators in onco-care. More so, being a nascent area of speciality in cancer care, the scope of growth and development of navigators in all public and private institutions holds immense potential.
New centres are being created across the country to tackle the quantum of increasing burden of cancer. Tata Memorial Centre is also expanding and prototypes are planned on the lines of hub and spoke models at Vizag, Sangrur, Chandigarh, Varanasi and Guwahati
New opportunities for growth of patient navigators within the existing and expanding TMC network are also envisaged. Avenues for growth shall also be presented to the patient navigators within the National Cancer Grid network for maintaining the uniformity of standards of patient care throughout the country. Tata Trusts also plans on developing new cancer centres in the North-East. Patient navigators would play a vital role in managing patient support in these centres right from its inception.
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