By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – I know that there are many complex terms in medicine and some that make no sense at all. Here is one that describes the role: the patient navigator system.

Here’s the idea.

A person is diagnosed with cancer and faced with a life-altering diagnosis. Confused and frightened, the patient begins to attempt to learn the ins and outs of the health care system. That’s where the patient navigator comes in.

A patient can call the navigator and ask for help, guidance about leading medical centers, new treatments, even insurance, and social issues.

When people are faced with a dramatic diagnosis like cancer or heart disease, it’s crucial to understand what is wrong and to know where to get help. The patient navigator system helps in both of these cases.

Common sense and a great way to improve care.

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