Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey and Regional Cancer Care Associates (RCCA) launched a nurse navigators pilot program to make sure cancer patients receive comprehensive care after their treatment through an oncology medical home.

The program will allow nurses to follow cancer patients after they leave the oncologist’s office, serve as a resource to address their needs and conditions, and help them access community services. Nurse navigators will communicate with patients through telephone, emails and texts.

“Instead of reacting to adverse conditions that can arise between cancer treatments, such as dangerously low hemoglobin counts that trigger ER visits and hospital admissions, we’re taking a proactive, coordinated approach to care,” says Allen Karp, senior vice president of healthcare management at Horizon.

Terrill Jordan, RCCA president and CEO, adds that the program exemplifies RCCA’s comprehensive approach to caring for the patients. “By working more collaboratively with Horizon, we are empowering our physicians and their clinical staff to follow the progress of our patients beyond the four walls of our local clinics,” he says.

Horizon and RCCA estimate that about 2,000 Horizon patients will join the program, which is planned to run for three years.

To evaluate the success of the program, Horizon has developed metrics by which it will measure whether it improves quality and outcomes, provides a better patient experience and lowers costs. If the program is successful, Horizon plans to expand it to other oncology practices.

The program started in November last year and has garnered positive reactions from patients, RCCA leadership and physicians. “As we get feedback, we can definitely make tweaks,” Karp says. “Both companies have the ability…to modify it as the pilot matures.”