The answer is: It depends.
Each organization needs to choose a structure that best fits their infrastructure and market. While many hospitals select a one-stop shop women’s health center model, this strategy is not always ideal in sparsely populated regions with limited capital budgets.
In the absence of a comprehensive women’s health center or hospital service line, a satellite outpatient women’s clinic can help patients better understand the spectrum of women’s services available to them throughout a health system. With limited capital budgets and facility space, organizations can use existing outpatient facilities or critical access hospitals to deliver additional programming for women in the community.
To ensure downstream referrals are directed to the “hub” facility, many health systems dedicate a women’s health navigator to streamline referrals and provide a direct line of contact to all related women’s health services.
Unpacking the 'hub-and-spoke' women’s health model
- The “hub”: Provides comprehensive women’s services—including inpatient OB/GYN, MFM, REI, urogynecology, gynecologic oncology, breast health, women’s imaging, women’s heart, women’s GI, and health and wellness—in a consolidated “one-stop shop” facility.
- The “spoke” sites: Often provide “bread and butter” services (e.g. gyn, breast imaging) but lack the comprehensiveness of a hub.
- Program infrastructure: Integrated, highly specific care protocols and IT platforms facilitate effective communication among women’s health care sites, promoting collaboration and minimizing leakage.
- Referral pathway: Spoke facilities refer to hub institution for sub-specialist care; a women’s health navigator serves as the direct point of contact for a women’s health program and manages patient schedules across sites of care, reducing leakage to competing facilities for downstream care.
Learn more: Women’s Services Strategic Outlook
Women’s health navigator ensures hub garners downstream referrals
Women’s health navigators are often the “first line of defense” for women’s health programs. Serving as the central access point for all women’s health services, this individual interacts with the majority of patients coming through the women’s program, taking questions and providing resources, assessing patients’ health needs, and scheduling future exams and procedures.
Understanding the role of a women’s health navigator in referrals management is essential to informing a health system’s regionalization strategy. The role of a women’s health navigator in a hub-and-spoke model is to ensure patient retention across sites of care. Navigators reduce patient leakage from spoke sites by directing patients to internal resources and scheduling all follow-up services at hub institutions.
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