A new productivity scale measures the workloads of oncology nurse navigators (ONNs) and assists in increasing their productivity, according to study results presented at the 2023 ONS Congress.

ONNs play a “pivotal role” in patient care, said poster presenter Stephanie Bonfilio of St. Elizabeth Healthcare in Edgewood, Kentucky, but this role is “at times difficult to quantify.” The Oncology Nurse Navigator Productivity Scale (ONNPS) was designed to “assess, plan, implement, and evaluate the current and future needs of the new oncology navigation program” at St. Elizabeth, Bonfilio explained.

Using data from electronic medical records, the ONNPS calculates ONNs’ total productivity value (TPV) by adding their time spent on tasks related to patient care to their average time spent on non-patient-related tasks, such as data collection and attending meetings.

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“This productivity scale allows for weekly, monthly, and quarterly productivity measures for each navigator, and can break down patient-facing time vs non-patient care time, and then an overall total productivity,” said Bonfilio.

After the ONNPS had been in effect for 1 month, the average TPV of the 2 thoracic ONNs at St. Elizabeth was calculated at 2.56 hours per day for each ONN. Six months later, this number had nearly doubled, to 5.1 hours per day per ONN.  This increase allowed the cancer center to hire an additional ONN for gastrointestinal (GI) cancers, bringing the total number of ONNs in the program to 3.

The 2 thoracic ONNs maintained an average TPV of 4.15 hours per day per ONN for 14 months, allowing 1 of them to begin building navigation for genitourinary cancers, “growing the program without hiring additional staff,” Bonfilio noted.

Meanwhile, the GI ONN had a 20% increase in TPV over time, from 4.86 hours per day in February 2021 to 5.89 hours per day in January 2022. On the basis of these results, another ONN was hired to assist the GI ONN and to begin building navigation for head and neck cancers, thus further growing the navigation program.

“The tool quantifies the navigators’ time in a way that really creates an assessment of their workload over time, and how efficient the navigation team is being,” Bonfilio concluded. “The data can be utilized as a guide for coaching staff and for growing the program, especially when resources in health care are very limited.”


Bonfilio, S. Time is money: Navigation validation with a new productivity scale. ONS Congress 2023. April 26-30, 2023. Abstract P225.

This article originally appeared on Oncology Nurse Advisor