Design and implementation of a patient navigation system in rural Nepal: Improving patient experience in resource-constrained settings

Anant Raut, Poshan Thapa, David Citrin, Ryan Schwarz, Bikash Gauchan, Deepak Bista, Bibhu Tamrakar, Scott Halliday, Duncan Maru, Dan Schwarz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Patient navigation programs have shown to be effective across multiple settings in guiding patients through the care delivery process. Limited experience and literature exist, however, for such programs in rural and resource-constrained environments. Patients living in such settings frequently have low health literacy and substantially lower social status than their providers. They typically have limited experiences interfacing with formalized healthcare systems, and, when they do, their experience can be unpleasant and confusing. At a district hospital in rural far-western Nepal, we designed and implemented a patient navigation system that aimed to improve patients' subjective care experience. First, we hired and trained a team of patient navigators who we recruited from the local area. Their responsibility is exclusively to demonstrate compassion and to guide patients through their care process. Second, we designed visual cues throughout our hospital complex to assist in navigating patients through the buildings. Third, we incorporated the patient navigators within the management and communications systems of the hospital care team, and established standard operating procedures. We describe here our experiences and challenges in designing and implementing a patient navigator program. Such patient-centered systems may be relevant at other facilities in Nepal and globally where patient health literacy is low, patients come from backgrounds of substantial marginalization and disempowerment, and patient experience with healthcare facilities is limited.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-257
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Global health
  • Implementation research
  • Nepal
  • Patient navigation
  • Patient-centered care


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