• patient navigators;
  • colonoscopy;
  • cancer screening;
  • cost-effectiveness analysis;
  • cost-benefit analysis



Patient navigation can increase colorectal cancer screening rates. The net economic impact of a colonoscopy patient navigator program was evaluated in an urban public hospital setting.


Cost, cost-effectiveness, and cost-benefit analyses were performed of a colonoscopy patient navigation program at 3 urban public hospitals in the period from 2003 to 2007. Program effectiveness was assessed in a 2-group, pre- and post-program, nonrandomized evaluation, comparing program hospitals with comparison hospitals that served similar populations. Costs were assessed from the provider's perspective. Outcomes included colonoscopy volume, colonoscopy completion rate, program cost, incremental cost-effectiveness, and net monetary benefit.


Patient navigation was associated with a 61% increase in average monthly colonoscopy volume at program hospitals, from 114 procedures to 184 procedures, compared with a 12% increase at comparison hospitals. Adjusted for other factors, the navigator program increased colonoscopy volume by 44 to 67 additional procedures per month. Average program cost varied from $50 to $300 per patient referred to a navigator. Incremental cost-effectiveness varied from $200 to $700 per additional colonoscopy. At 2 hospitals, net revenue associated with increased colonoscopy volume exceeded the program cost per additional colonoscopy, yielding a net financial benefit; at the third hospital, the program yielded a net cost. Variation between hospitals in the program's economic impact was primarily attributable to differences in personnel costs.


Economic evaluation of this colonoscopy patient navigator program in an urban public hospital setting suggests that such programs can be a cost-effective use of limited resources and yield a net financial benefit for providers. Cancer 2012. © 2012 American Cancer Society.